The tri-sanctioned, equal men's and women's prize money event will be the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere
ISPS Handa World Invitational To Feature European Tour, LPGA And LET Players
The return of the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management has been confirmed with the tournament’s status bumped up to an official European Tour event following a successful inaugural edition on the Challenge Tour in 2019.
It will be tri-sanctioned with the European Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour, and is set for Galgorm Castle in Northern Ireland from July 28th – August 1st, 2021.
Just like in 2019, the tournament will be played over two courses, Galgorm Castle and Massereene ,and will form part of the European Tour’s 2021 UK Swing, taking in tournaments in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England across July and August.
It will be the first time an event of this format is tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour in the northern hemisphere – following in the footsteps of the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia which has the same format.
The tournament will feature a huge field of 288 players, made up of 144 men and 144 women, with the women’s field split equally between the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour.
The $2.35 million purse will be split evenly, with men and women competing for two equal prize funds.
The tournament will count towards the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and carry Team Europe Ryder Cup points for the men.
The women’s tournament will count towards the Race to the CME Globe on the LPGA Tour, the Race to Costa del Sol on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and Solheim Cup points for both Team Europe and Team USA.
It will be a traditional 72-hole stroke play format with men and women competing at two venues, Galgorm Castle Golf Club and Massereene Golf Club, over the first two days before a halfway cut reduces the field to the top 60 professionals, including ties, in the men’s and women’s draws.
The third round will take place at Galgorm Castle before a further 54-hole cut takes place with the top 35 and ties from the men’s and women’s draws advancing to the final round on Sunday.
There is also going to be a new pro-only pre-qualifier event for men and women, taking place ahead of the tournament in June with further details to follow, while Golf Ireland’s Ulster Stroke Play Championship will provide elite amateurs with the opportunity to qualify and compete in the tournament.
Amateurs will be able to enter for the Ulster Strokeplay Championship through the Golf Ireland website.
The event will have extensive live coverage via Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland plus international broadcasters globally, with an expected daily global audience in the region of 640 million.
The LPGA Tour offering should provide a unique reach into Asia and North America.
Niall Horan, owner of Modest! Golf Management, said: “This is a key moment for professional golf in this part of the world, and with the help of ISPS Handa along with both the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and European Tour we have been able to take the ISPS Handa World Invitational to a new level, which will without doubt reach new audiences around the world.
“The message behind the tournament perfectly aligns with Modest! Golf’s ethos of providing opportunities for all and ensuring golf is a game for everyone. These are vital messages which we plan to further develop with The R&A having recently announced our partnership with them.
“I have been attending European Tour events for as long as I can remember. To host a co-sanctioned LPGA Tour and European Tour event on the island of Ireland gives me so much pride and I cannot wait to return to the amazing Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort this summer, the perfect venue to host such a tournament.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are excited to once again work alongside ISPS Handa and Modest! Golf Management, both of whom share our vision of driving golf further through innovation and inclusivity.
“We thank Dr Handa for his continued support of the European Tour, and also Niall Horan and Modest! Golf Management for their hard work and determination in helping elevate this event after building strong foundations on the Challenge Tour in 2019. Galgorm Castle was a hugely popular addition to our Race to Dubai schedule in 2020 and we are all looking forward to returning there in July.”
Michael Whan, former LPGA Tour Commissioner, said: “ISPS Handa has long been a visionary in how sports can be an agent of change, and now we are excited to help them move to a whole new level and deliver a message of equality to fans in Northern Ireland with the ISPS Handa World Invitational.
“To have the best women and men compete alongside each other at the same venue for the same purse, is exciting for fans and it showcases what is great about this global game.”
Alexandra Armas, LET Chief Executive Officer, added: “Our members are delighted to be playing in this ground-breaking tournament, which marks another significant development for the LPGA-LET joint venture, and I would like to thank all of the sponsors and organisers for their support of our vision and desire to elevate European women’s golf to new heights.
“We are committed to providing more playing opportunities for Europe’s most talented golfers to thrive and flourish and to enable them to reach the highest levels in golf. This tournament offers a unique platform which will no doubt raise the game and inspire more women and girls to take up the sport.”