This year’s Northern Ireland Open kicks off in Cairndhu on Monday with the remaining two rounds of the 54-hole event Tuesday and Wednesday at Castlerock and Galgorm Castle.
The event again sees male and female pros in action, but in a new pro-am format that includes celebrities.
The top two men and the winner will earn places for next month’s World Invitational event.
Ballymena man Dermot McElroy is expected to be among the main male contenders.
McElroy finished second to John Murphy of Kinsale last year, earning her a place in the co-sanctioned DP World Tour, LPGA and LET event at Galgorm Castle and Massereene while the women’s winner 12 months ago was England’s Thalia Martin.
Female hopefuls this year include former England footballer Billie-Jo Smith, who is now a professional golfer and has competed on the Ladies European Tour.
The revamped format of the event will see the pros go head-to-head in three rounds of move play with the two-player Pro-Am tag team event taking place simultaneously in the same manner as the DP World Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links event. .
Fans will feel the pressure trying to make the cut with the top 10 Pro-Am teams progressing to Galgorm for day three alongside the top 60 professionals.
2022 is the second year the event has been part of the Clutch Pro Tour, which is the UK’s leading gender equality and development tour.
Other players competing this year include England’s Giles Evans, who finished second in the Clutch Pro Tour Order of Merit last year, and Ireland’s Liam Grehan, who finished third in the 2021 men’s event.
Sports celebrities attending the pro-am include Northern Ireland footballer Keith Gillespie as well as former Irish rugby internationals Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace and Andy Ward.
Niall Horan’s Modest Golf is once again the main support for the event, which is now in its 13th edition.
“This year’s event is an exciting new format, and we look forward to working with Castlerock as one of our new venues,” said the pop star.