This week’s World Invitational will be the final leg of the men’s and women’s event in Northern Ireland, but main host venue Galgorm Castle plans to continue hosting tournament golf.
The DP World Tour’s 2024 schedule, announced on Monday, confirmed the departure of the World Invitational from the rota.
But Galgorm Castle are optimistic professional events will continue at the venue, telling BBC Sport “we hope to have exciting news later this year on how tournament golf at Galgorm will develop in 2024 and beyond.”
No further details have yet been given on the format of the tournament or which tour it will be on, although the Ballymena-based club is excitingly talking about a “new concept in world golf”.
Galgorm Castle has been an innovator while hosting professional events over the past 13 years, which included the new sixes format of the then Challenge Tour Northern Ireland Open in 2017, before the inauguration of the ISPS Handa-sponsored The 2019 World Invitational saw separate professional men’s and women’s events. is also being staged in Europe for the first time.
The arrival of Covid-19 led to the cancellation of the 2020 World Invitational, when the Challenge Tour’s Northern Ireland Open and then the European Tour’s Irish Open were held at the venue for a memorable three-week period, with American John Catlin claiming victory in the latter event as the course received high praise.
In 2021, the World Invitational moved the men’s event up to full DP World Tour status as the women’s tournament was co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour, significantly increasing the quality of both fields.
The tournament’s LPGA status led to an unusually strong female field last year, as entries included 2018 Women’s Open winner Georgia Hall, home star Leona Maguire, defending champion Pajaree Anannarukarn, plus talented Swedes Linn Grant and Maja Stark, with the latter eventually tied for fifth. -shot victory after a fantastic closing 10-under-par 63.
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson won the men’s tournament by three shots 12 months ago – after firing a course record nine-under par 61 on Saturday – and is back to defend the title at Galgorm and the tournament’s other venue Castlerock, in a men’s field which includes the countryman and Ryder Cup hopeful Robert MacIntyre and another strong contender for the European team in Rome, France’s Victor Perez.
MacIntyre currently occupies the final automatic qualifying spot in the European points table and will be hoping to consolidate his position with a strong performance, with just two more weeks remaining in the year-long qualifying process after the Northern Ireland event.
After his hugely impressive first DP World Tour triumph at the European Open in June, Galgorm Club touring pro Tom McKibbin will have plenty of home support.
Other male hopefuls include 2021 winner Daniel Gavins, 2020 Irish Open Catlin champion Richard Mansell, Matthew Jordan after his excellent tie for 10th in The Open at his home Hoylake, and Laurie Canter, who returns to the DP World Tour . after completing his LIV Golf commitments.
Maguire and Hall lead the women’s entry, and the field also includes 2021 Scottish Open champion Ryann O’Toole plus fellow LPGA winners Christina Kim, Bronte Law, Jasmine Suwannapura, Lee-Anne Pace, Annie Park, Ilhee Lee and Azahara Munoz.
The tournament’s second venue this year moves from Massereene to Castlerock, with all entrants playing one of their two opening rounds on the county Londonderry links before the weekend’s action takes place at Galgorm Castle.