Fresh chapter for Unions at new-look Ulster Stroke Play

​​​GUI and ILGU staging men's and women's championships at Ulster Stroke Play, 27- 28 May, at Massereene and Galgorm Castle

  • 24 May 2019

​Picture: Clandeboye's Jessica Ross leads at the half way point of the Ulster Stroke Play | Pat Cashman 

Tournament golf in Ireland has been given a modern, new look by the sport's governing bodies.

For the first time, the GUI and ILGU will host senior men's and women's championships simultaneously at the same venue. The Ulster Stroke Play Championship, which runs from 27 to 28 May at Massereene and Galgorm Castle in Co Antrim, will incorporate separate individual tournaments for male and female competitors. Both events will run concurrently and the top three players in each qualify for the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.

Played over two days, this championship offers valuable Bridgestone Order of Merit points for the male players in the field. In addition, the leading trio, male and female, will receive an entry to the ISPS Handa World Invitational, which is scheduled for the same courses from 15 to 18 August.

The winner of the men's championship will collect 150 points toward the Bridgestone Order of Merit. A victory for either of Rob Brazill (Naas) or Tiarnán McLarnon (Massereene) would see them go second in the table. Brazill and McLarnon are drawn together for the opening rounds.

In the women's championship, Lucy Simpson (Massereene) will have the benefit of local knowledge playing on her home course. Ireland internationals Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe) and Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) also bring strong credentials to the Co Antrim venues. With international and interprovincial matches on the horizon, the ILGU team selectors will be keeping a close watch.

Previously known as the Northern Ireland Amateur Open, and hosted by Galgorm Castle, the GUI and ILGU will administer the tournament as the Ulster Stroke Play Championship for the first time in 2019.

After 36 holes, one round on each course, the field will be cut for the final day. Of the male players, the top 39 and ties progress; the top eight and ties advance in the women's championship. Galgorm Castle will host the second day of action, when two more rounds will be played. The top three players, in both events, qualify for the ISPS Handa World Invitational, which takes place at Massereene and Galgorm Castle in August.

The Bridgestone Order of Merit comprises 10 events this year and began with the West of Ireland Championship in April. The top three players on the Bridgestone Order of Merit earn automatic selection on the Ireland team for the Home Internationals, which will be staged at Lahinch from 11-13 September.