For immediate release
Date: Thursday August 17, 2023

Tournament: ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics
Race to Dubai: Tournament 34 of 45 events
Venue: Galgorm, Ballymena, Northern Ireland / Castlerock Golf Club, Coleraine, Northern Ireland
Prize Fund: $1,500,000
Hashtag: #WorldInvitational #DPWT
Press Officer: Matthew Joule / +44 (0) 7384 468 217 /

Round 1 Report

Dan Brown took full advantage of favourable weather conditions to post an opening seven under par round of 64 at Castlerock Golf Club and open a two-stroke first round lead at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics.

This week’s event is tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour, with men’s and women’s tournaments played on the same courses at the same time for two equal prize funds of US$1.5million.

Competitors will each play one round at Galgorm and Castlerock Golf Club on Thursday and Friday, with the final two rounds of action taking place at Galgorm, and with the weather set to turn ahead of tomorrow’s second round, Brown put a buffer between himself and the rest of the field with a sublime opener on the links.

The Englishman, who earned his playing privileges through DP World Tour Qualifying School in 2022, made the turn at four under par after two lots of back-to-back birdies, before another gain arrived at the par five 11th and an eagle at the par five 15th.

His only dropped shot of the day occurred at the next, a par three, before he earned it back at the closing hole to sign for a round of 64, two strokes clear of countrymen Alex Fitzpatrick, Callan Barrow and Indian Manu Gandas, who all posted five under par rounds of 66 at Castlerock, while Italian Gregorio De Leo joined the group on five under with a round of 65 at Galgorm.

The majority of low scoring was done at Castlerock and it was the same story in the women’s event. Australian Karis Davidson, Switzerland’s Kim Metraux, England’s Gabriella Cowley and Ellinor Sudow, of Sweden, share first place after four under par rounds of 69 at Castlerock Golf Club, one shot clear of a group of four in a tie for fifth.

The lowest round of the day at Galgorm in the women’s event was shared by America’s Marissa Steen and China’s He Muni on two under par.

Player quotes

Dan Brown: “I felt like this week more than any other was important to get off to a good start with some bad weather forecast tomorrow. There’s going to be times where you’re grinding it out and battling to make pars. I’ve given myself a nice little buffer really ahead of that challenge tomorrow.

“It’s probably as good as I played all year. Tee to green and was really solid. Holed out nicely inside ten to 12 feet and the front nine was wasn’t too windy but then it really got up on the back nine.

“The round just kept on flowing even though the conditions got a bit tougher so it was positive after a good three or four weeks off in the schedule.

“I didn’t actually get to play the Scandinavian Mixed, but I think it’s a great change to the atmosphere, watching how everyone goes about things. Trying to learn off each other and also amazing for the fans as well. Obviously they’ve come out to watch some golf and they get the best of both worlds. They get to watch the guys on the girls. So I think all round it’s very positive and hopefully there’s more of that to come in the near future.”

Alex Fitzpatrick: “I think I made five birdies in a row which was a nice way to start the day. I just kept hitting greens and made a couple of putts and just went on a bit of a run, which was nice. The wind started to pick up a lot which made it harder to hit greens and give yourself chances. I stuck in well and grinded out a decent score. Happy to be where I am.

“I holed a long putt on 14, the par three. I think it was 20 foot down the hill, quite a tricky putt. It was nice to get that one and then follow it up with one on the short par five. Played nicely.

“On the par five, I think I had 25 foot, 30 foot, I hit the putt and with about two feet to go it looked like it was going in and I thought ‘oh goodness’ and I said it out loud then it lipped out. My playing partners were laughing at me. It was nice to make that many.

“I think Galgorm is a tough golf course from what I know and it will play really soft. I think it’s meant to rain and be windy again. I’ll try and stick in there and grind out a score and move onto the weekend and see how that goes.

Gregorio De Leo: “It was quite windy out there. I played really good, actually played really solid from the tee shot. I managed to get in every fairway and my putter was really, really in the game.

“I played a lot actually. I played almost every tournament since we started in Europe. So I was thinking about taking a week off this week. But then last week they sent an email that we could enter here. So I said, okay, let’s give it an experience out here with the big guys and try to understand how to play.

“I think the secret was hitting a lot of fairways. I think being like solid from the fairway was the key to shooting a low round.

“I’m feeling confident. I think I will just enjoy this experience and if the results are coming, it’s even better.”

Karis Davidson: “The back nine was quite windy so it was just grinding away. Front nine holed a couple long putts, which was nice, and obviously teeing up off we got a little bit fortunate that the wind wasn’t too strong. The birdie on 17 was really good as well; reachable par five in two.

“Galgorm is playing really soft so you can definitely be a little bit more aggressive at pins. And the greens are a little bit quicker, so it’s quite a different golf course. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Gabriella Cowley: “I think obviously being like a links course it was windy this afternoon, so just trying to manage the ball flight and the kind of shots that we’re trying to hit. I just think the course was playing tough, but I think obviously a few par fives that we can reach which was good for us.

“I like Galgorm. I played there the last few years, so looking forward to tomorrow. Obviously completely different course, completely different style. It’s not so much managing like how much it runs out and how much the wind will affect it. It’s just about picking a good number and committing to it, to be honest.”

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