The NI Open has embraced the European Tour's vision of introducing fresh new ideas and innovation to professional golf with the introduction of Shootout Sunday at Galgorm Castle.
Now in its fifth year, the 156 players who make the field for the August 10-13 event in Ballymena will try to make the traditional, 36-hole cut for the top 60 and ties.
But there will then be a 54-hole cut for the top 24 (playoffs will decide ties) followed by five rounds of six-hole strokeplay matches in what promises to be a high octane and dramatic Shootout Sunday.
Continuing the short form matchplay theme from other European Tour events such as this year’s Super 6 in Australia, the NI Open will produce even greater excitement because the knock-out, strokeplay format on the final day will ensure the action continues until the last hole for each of the 28 matches.
How it works
- The top eight players after 54 holes of strokeplay will receive a bye into the second round of matches and will be seeded.
- The remaining 16 players (positions 9-24) will be randomly paired for the first round matches.
- If there are any ties for 24th position, a sudden-death play-off (18th hole) will determine the qualifiers following the completion of 54 holes.
- The losing quarter-finalists will contest matches to determine positions 5-8 and the losing semi-finalists will contest a match to determine 3-4.
- Any matches level after six holes will be determined by playing the 1st hole (rounds one and two) or a shortened version of the 18th hole (quarter finals, semi-finals and final) as a sudden-death play-off hole.
Mark McDonnell, Director of Modest! Golf, said: "We are delighted to return to the NI Open, this time as Presenting Sponsor. We love working alongside the European Challenge Tour and Galgorm Castle and this year is set to be bigger and better than ever before."
Fellow Modest! Golf Director Niall Horan commented: "We are excited to be coming back to the NI Open and introducing a brand new format. Shootout Sunday will be a great concept, both for the players and spectators."
The NI Open’s exciting new format offers a new dimension that complements the staging of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart at the beginning of July.
Interactive and family events will also be on site at Galgorm Castle during the NI Open and one of the province’s sporting highlights will once again have free entry for all spectators.
Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey continues to be closely involved and has been a key figure in helping to make the NI Open an even better experience for players, spectators and television viewers.
"The NI Open comes hot on the heels of the Irish Open and what is being devised here at Galgorm is an exciting new twist which sets it apart from anything we’ve ever had in Northern Ireland," said Hoey, a five–time European Tour winner, who finished eighth at Galgorm in 2016 behind winner Ryan Fox from New Zealand.
"We have spoken to several players about the change in format, including last year’s winner Ryan Fox, and all agreed that the new format is an extremely exciting new prospect.
"The NI Open’s unique and innovative strokeplay matches on the Sunday is a first for professional golf and is sure to be a highlight on the global golfing calendar.
"The new format is certain to be more entertaining for spectators, especially with holes like the redesigned par-three seventh sure to throw up plenty of drama as crowds converge at strategic parts of the course."