Six PGA in Ireland professionals will compete at this year’s DDF Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Portstewart GC.
Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Colm Moriarty, Neil O’Briain, Simon Thornton and Richard Kilpatrick booked their places in the field via the 2016 Order of Merit standings.
It will be a unique experience for Banbridge (Co Down) based professional Richard Kilpatrick, who, at 35 years of age, will be playing in an Irish Open for the very first time.
“I can’t wait. The crowds, the buzz, the field that is being assembled,” said Kilpatrick.
“I can’t wait to tee it up, let it go and see what happens. It will be some test.
“It means a lot to get to play in my first Irish Open at Portstewart.
“My aunt has a place in the town and I played the course a lot as an amateur.
“Even now, during the winter and when I can in the summer months I try to get up and play.
“The club professional, Neil Graham, has been very good in accommodating me.”
Kilpatrick spent the best part of eight years playing on the Challenge Tour, Alps Tour and EuroPro Tour before opting to follow the PGA route.
He is in the third year of his training and is based at Banbridge GC, working under Jason Greenaway.
“I knew that I wanted to stay involved in golf and for me to do that, the PGA has been a good path,” he added.
“I’m learning a lot both in terms of the the technical side and the business side of the game and I’m still getting a chance to play.”
He has performed impressively on the PGA in Ireland circuit in recent season, and has two wins to his name in 2017 at the PGA Irish Club Pro-Am and the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.
He is currently in action at the Slieve Russell Masters Pro-Am where he trails overnight leader, Simon Thornton (-3) by three shots heading into today’s final round.
2016 PGA in Ireland Order of Merit (Final Standings)
1: (ranking) Damien McGrane; 20 (events); 24,861.26 points.
2: David Higgins (Waterville Golf); 20; 23,705.00
3: Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance LTD); 20; 21,810.17
4: Neil O’Briain (Old Conna GC); 20; 20,495.51
5: Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf); 20; 18,815.01
6: Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC): 20; 16,468.51.