One Direction star Niall Horan will sponsor the Northern Ireland Amateur Open at Galgorm Castle.
Horan's Modest! Golf management company is already heavily involved in the promotion of the Challenge Tour's NI Open at Galgorm Castle.
He's keen to help develop young Irish talent and provide players with playing opportunities in the early stages of their careers and Modest! Golf's support for the Northern Ireland Amateur Open reinforces their commitment to the next generation.
Believing their sponsorship of the NI Amateur Open is a natural fit, Horan said: “One of our main objectives starting out with Modest! Golf was to support young talent. We try to give players opportunities that they maybe haven’t had before.
“To support the NI Amateur Open gives young players a chance to learn more about themselves and their game. That’s what we did with local star Tom McKibbin in recent years when he went on to compete in the NI Open.”
This year’s 36-hole strokeplay NI Amateur Open takes place at Galgorm Castle in Ballymena on Tuesday, July 17, one week after the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.
The event will continue to receive support from Specsavers Ballymena and Srixon Cleveland with the winner earning a place in the Challenge Tour's NI Open from August 16-19.
“At every opportunity, we want to encourage and support young players coming through," Horan said.
"Through sponsorship of the NI Amateur Open we give the winner a chance to compete in one of the best events on the European Challenge Tour and in front of record crowds."
Knock’s Colin Fairweather overcame fellow Irish international and former champion Tiarnan McLarnon and Boys international Thomas Mulligan in a playoff to win last year’s NI Amateur Open.
Previous winners include former Walker Cup player Cormac Sharvin, former Irish internationals Reeve Whitson and Dermot McElroy and current international panellist McLarnon.
“Ireland always produces incredible talent,” said Modest! Golf Director, Mark McDonnell.
“We want to do our bit by creating playing opportunities for young players and give them a chance to compete at the highest level during the early stages of their career when they need the most support.”
Modest! Is a boutique management company with six players on the books with further “exciting news” to be announced in the coming weeks.
“Attitude, work ethic and ability are key traits we look for in a player," McDonnell said.
"We’ve always said we are a boutique management company, we want to manage a few players well rather than have too many players on our books.
“We have six exciting talents with an average age just under 22. Connor Syme has graduated to the main European Tour, Jack Singh Brar is inside the top 15 on the Challenge Tour, and we have some emerging players starting to break through.
“We always wonder how we can make the NI Open better year on year. It’s one of the tournaments that jumps out, and the players always take note of the date when the schedule is released. They love coming to Galgorm.
“This year will be no different with lots of exciting new things happening such as the NI Open Showstage where live music and bands will play over the weekend of the event to add to the festival atmosphere.
“We’re incredibly proud to be part of the NI Open and to promote events at Galgorm. There are some really exciting plans for 2019 too, a massive year for golf in Northern Ireland when The Open Championship returns to these shores.”
Tourism Ireland also plays a key role in the success of the NI Open, especially when promoting golf on the island of Ireland to an international audience.
Tourism Ireland's Aubrey Irwin said: “The Northern Ireland Open is a wonderful event, giving us an opportunity to showcase our world-class golf courses to a huge number of golfing enthusiasts across the world.
“The 2018 Northern Ireland Open will once again shine a spotlight on golf here, helping us to highlight our superb parkland courses, which complement the world-class links for which Northern Ireland is known around the world.”