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Ulster Juniors get set for Irish Open Skills Challenge Finals

SKILLS CHALLENGE: Dubai Duty Free Ambassador Des Smyth (centre) helps 14 year old Pat Taafe and 12 year old Pia McElligott practice their skills for the forthcoming regional finals of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Skills Challenge.

SKILLS CHALLENGE: Dubai Duty Free Ambassador Des Smyth (centre) helps 14 year old Pat Taafe and 12 year old Pia McElligott practice their skills for the forthcoming regional finals of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Skills Challenge. The Ulster qualifier will take place at the CAFRE Greenmount Campus in County Antrim on Saturday April 2 from 1pm with 23 boys teams and 13 girls teams competing for a place in the Grand Final and the chance to win a unique ‘meet and greet’ opportunity with a top player at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am, where they will also be able to watch the players practice their own considerable skills. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge is part of Rory McIlroy’s ‘five point plan’ to help make this year’s Irish Open, which is hosted by his own charitable Rory Foundation, one of the best ever. Run by The European Tour and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI), the competition is designed to help young golfers under the age of 15, develop their golf skills as part of a four-person team.

SKILLS CHALLENGE: Dubai Duty Free Ambassador Des Smyth (centre) helps 14 year old Pat Taafe and 12 year old Pia McElligott practice their skills for the forthcoming regional finals of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Skills Challenge.

Junior golfers across Ulster are practicing their skills for the forthcoming regional finals of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Skills Challenge.

The Ulster qualifier will take place at the CAFRE Greenmount Campus in County Antrim on Saturday April 2 from 1pm with 23 boys teams and 13 girls teams competing for a place in the Grand Final and the chance to win a unique ‘meet and greet’ opportunity with a top player at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Pro-Am, where they will also be able to watch the players practice their own considerable skills.

​The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge is part of Rory McIlroy’s ‘five point plan’ to help make this year’s Irish Open, which is hosted by his own charitable Rory Foundation, one of the best ever.

Run by The European Tour and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI), the competition is designed to help young golfers under the age of 15, develop their Putting, Chipping, Iron Play and Driving skills as part of a four-person team.

This competition is a really great opportunity for our young golfers to focus on the key skills of the game in a fun team environment, and we are delighted that so many teams from across Ulster have entered,” said John Roche, Director of Golf and Business Development, Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI).

“The role of the CGI is to help advance the sport of golf throughout the island of Ireland and a key element of this is to foster a love of the sport among the next generation. This initiative is a really great way to show younger players what a fantastic sport golf is and to get them excited about the game. The level of interest in the competition is very heartening and really bodes well for the future of golf in Ireland.”

The European Tour’s Antonia Beggs added:  “As well as making this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation one of the best ever, a very important goal in all of this for Rory himself is to help grow the game and encourage more kids to take up the sport.

It is very important for Rory and also for The European Tour and all of our event partners to ensure that we leave a legacy in terms of helping to develop golf on this island – although given the incredible performances of golfers from this part of the world, it could be argued that the game needs little development here.

This is why we have teamed up with the CGI to create the Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge which we really hope we will help us uncover the next Rory McIlroy,” concluded Antonia.

Other provincial finals will take place at Ballykisteen Golf Club (Munster) on April 16, Galway Bay Golf Club (Connacht) on April 16 and the Heritage Golf Club (Leinster) on April 17, with the National Final taking place at the GUI National Golf Academy at Carton House in Maynooth, County Kildare on Sunday April 24.

Split into two categories – U15 Boys and U15 Girls – clubs throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland re being asked to enter one team in each category.  Each team will consist of four players with each player designated to a certain skill, i.e., Player 1 completes the Putting Challenge, Player 2 completes the Chipping Challenge, Player 3 completes the Iron Challenge and Player 4 completes the Driving Challenge.  The skills scores are combined to make up a team score.

Boys teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 64 while the Girls teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 80.

Last year’s winners in Ulster were the Girls team from Royal County Down Ladies Club and the Boys from Tandragee Golf Club in County Armagh.  The National Final winners were the Girls team from Shannon Golf Club in County Clare, and the Boys team from Faithlegg Golf Club in County Waterford.

This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which tees off at The K Club on Thursday May 19 is already making history.

Firstly, this year’s prize fund is €4 million, an Irish Open record which is sure to attract some of golf’s most exciting players.

In addition, having officially hosted a sell-out Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down last year, 2016 is the first year that Rory will be hosting a tournament south of the border, through his charity the Rory Foundation.

A portion of all tickets sales this year will go towards the Foundation which was established by McIlroy in 2013 to help children live better lives by raising funds and offering support to children’s charities around the world.

This year will also be the first time that The K Club in County Kildare will host Ireland’s national Open, fittingly on the 10th anniversary of the course hosting Europe’s memorable victory over the USA in the 2006 Ryder Cup.

For more information on the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation or to purchase tickets www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.  Advance tickets for the event start at only €30 per day while a season ticket costs just €70 for the entire four days.

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2016 is also supported by the Irish Government under the auspices of the Fáilte Ireland and Sport Ireland.

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