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Bridgestone Order of Merit resumes at North of Ireland

​​North of Ireland (8-12 July) at Portstewart and Castlerock​ is the next event in the Bridgestone Order of Merit

  • 05 July 2019

​Picture: Ian Lynch (Rosslare) won the North of Ireland in 2018 | Golffile

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Play resumes in the Bridgestone Order of Merit with the North of Ireland, which gets underway at Portstewart and Castlerock on Monday 8 July.

In the year that The Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush, the North moves from its traditional home. Portstewart and Castlerock, neighbouring links along the north coast, co-host stroke play qualifying. Once the starting field of 300 is whittled down to 64 players, Portstewart will host the match play stages.

Ulsterman Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) leads the chase for Bridgestone Order of Merit points at this year's North of Ireland. Currently third in the standings, 32 year old Campbell has the chance to go top of the Bridgestone table by making the final four at the North. The former international is seeking his second win of the year having already captured the Ulster Stroke Play Championship

Robert Brazill, 22, from Naas could also make major ground with a strong showing. The big-hitting Kildare man is fourth in the Bridgestone table following a consistent run of form. Brazill has three top 10 finishes this season and was fourth at the East of Ireland on his last appearance in the Bridgestone Order of Merit.

After 36 holes of stroke play qualifying, the top 64 progress at the North of Ireland. The championship will be decided on the Strand Course at Portstewart, where the match play action begins on Wednesday 10 July.

In 2018, Rosslare's Ian Lynch went all the way at the North. Lynch beat England's Kieran Babbage 2&1 in a closely contested final on the Dunluce Links at Portrush. The reigning champion returns to defend his crown and is joined in the field by Englishman Babbage, who makes the trip from Bristol once more.

Among the home challengers, Rowan Lester (Hermitage) is the highest ranked at number 132 in the world. Lester won the North at Portrush in 2017. In terms of handicap, Kinsale's John Murphy is the leading player in the field, entering off a mark of plus 4.9.

The North of Ireland is the seventh of 10 events in the Bridgestone Order of Merit. The top three players at the end of the season earn automatic selection on the Ireland team for the Home Internationals, which will be staged at Lahinch from 11 to 13 September.