Golf Australia

Vic Open model heads to Northern Ireland

2019 Vic Open champions
2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open champions Celine Boutier and David Law

Seven years after the Vic Open thought it was an idea worth trying, simultaneous men’s and women’s golf tournaments are popping up in various places.

The latest will arrive on the European Challenge Tour in August, where the event formerly known as the Northern Ireland Open will be reinvented as the ISPS Handa World Invitational Men-Women.

Former One Direction singer and longtime golf fanatic Niall Horan is behind the change through his Modest! Golf Management group.

The tournament will be played at the Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and the Massereene Golf Club, Ballymena, from August 15-18.

The $US 500,000 prize money will be divided equally between the men’s and women’s competitions, and there will be approximately 300 competitors in total playing at both venues on the Thursday and Friday. A cut after the second will send the two fields to Galgorm Castle for the weekend, where a third-round cut will further reduce each field for the final round.

“We got into golf with the aim to help and develop the next generation of player. By supporting a tournament like this exciting new World Invitational we are to bring that goal to fruition,” said Horan in a statement released today.

“Myself and the entire Modest! team are delighted to be partnering with ISPS HANDA, a wonderful organisation who are synonymous with promoting the game around the world and helping to bring people together through sport.

“ISPS HANDA reach out to all areas of society as evidenced through their drive and support for blind golfers and golfers with a disability. In this part of the world we are aware more than most about the importance of creating a lasting legacy. By working alongside ISPS HANDA we can help deliver something very special through this exciting new tournament.”

The ISPS Handa Vic Open first drew male and female golfers together at Spring Valley in 2012, but the tournament has boomed since it was moved to 13th Beach links in 2013. The event has won widespread acclaim in the golfing world and this year’s tournament was part of the men’s European Tour and the women’s LPGA Tour.

Male and female professionals have rarely played together but last year at Gleneagles in Scotland a new event was started along those lines. The US PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour have also expressed a desire to bring the players together in the future.

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