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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 15:56 UK

Galgorm ready for EuroPro event

By John Haughey
BBC Northern Ireland

The third green at Galgorm Castle in Ballymena
The winner at Galgorm Castle will pick up 10,000

Galgorm Castle's tented village for the inaugural Northern Ireland PGA EuroPro Open at the Ballymena club was already beginning to take shape on Thursday.

The tournament is the biggest golfing event taking place in Northern Ireland this year as players from all over the globe battle for the £10,000 first prize.

The EuroPro series is Europe's third-tier series behind the main tour and Challenge series and has provided the pro beginnings for many big name stars.

James Morrison is among the graduates from the EuroPro Tour who has made an impact on the main European circuit this year and there are certain to be players at Galgorm this week who will become household names in the golfing world over the coming seasons.

Monday is the first practice day at Galgorm with the pro-am taking place at Tuesday before the three days of competitive action start on Wednesday.

Tuesday's pro-am will double as this year's George Best Foundation fund-raiser which will see a gala dinner taking place at the nearby Galgorm Resort & Spa in the evening.

And fans of the late Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend will be able to get a further fix at the George Best exhibition which is being held in the tented village which is being erected to give the event a truly European Tour feel.

All around the championship venue, tournament leaderboards will be in operation to keep spectators up to date with the day's action.

"It's looking like a good week although we'll be hoping that the weather hasn't peaked too early," Galgorm Castle's general-manager Gary Henry told BBC Sport.

"The course is in fabulous condition at the moment although we are hoping it doesn't get too baked with the great weather we are having this week.

Gary Wolstenholme
Gary Wolstenholme is in the field for the EuroPro event at Galgorm

"We've issued over 4,000 tickets for the event and 500 of them were online.

"The pro-am entry is completely full with 49 teams taking part and it should be a great day with the gala dinner in the evening for the George Best Foundation when an auction will be taking place."

Even more lucrative than the first prize will be the BMW car, valued at £20,000, which will be handed out for a hole-in-one at the short seventh during the three tournament days.

Only the first man to achieve the feat will receive the keys so it should concentrate the minds of the players on Wednesday morning - even if they have had a poor start.

The Saltman brothers Lloyd, Elliott and Zack are among the entries from across the water while twice British Amateur Champion Gary Wolstenholme will continue to keep his game sharp ahead of his entry into the senior ranks in two months by competing at Galgorm.

The two most recent winners on the EuroPro circuit Stuart Archibald and Ian Keenan will also be among the hopefuls travelling over from Britain.

However, there is a strong entry of Irish hopefuls who will be hoping to fend off the cross-channel invaders.

Lurgan man Gareth Shaw and Derry native Michael McGeady will be among the Challenge Tour regulars hoping to claim the £10,000 first prize.

McGeady missed out on a full European Tour card by a heartbreaking one shot at last year's Tour School as he bogeyed his final hole in the 90-hole marathon in Spain.

The Maiden City player will be joined by another North West man in former British Amateur Champion Brian McElhinney while other Irish hopefuls include big-hitting Damien Mooney, Noel Fox, Mark Staunton and former Faldo Series Ireland winner Reeve Whitson.

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see also
Wolstenholme enters Galgorm event
15 Jun 10 |  Golf
Galgorm launch EuroPro PGA event
15 Mar 10 |  Golf
Galgorm will stage EuroPro event
31 Dec 09 |  Golf
North Strokeplay event at Galgorm
21 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf event to honour legend Best
02 Jul 08 |  Irish

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