For immediate release
Date: Wednesday August 16, 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 /

Tournament Preview

Tom McKibbin is excited to tee it up as a DP World Tour winner on home soil at this week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics.

The 20-year-old entered the winner’s circle for the first time at the Porsche European Open earlier this year after graduating from the European Challenge Tour in 2022, and this week makes his first start in his home country since becoming the ninth player from Northern Ireland to win on the DP World Tour.

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.

There will be a cut in both tournaments to the leading 60 professionals and ties after the second round and then a further cut after the third round to the leading 35 players and ties in each event. On all four tournament days, groups at both courses will alternate between male and female competitors.

Home favourite McKibbin is joined in the field by Ryder Cup hopefuls Victor Perez and Robert MacIntyre, the latter being the current occupant of the final automatic qualification spot on the European Points List, with just three events of the qualifying campaign remaining.

Ewen Ferguson, also of Scotland, returns to defend his crown in Northern Ireland having won his second DP World Tour title at last year’s event, with fellow past champions Daniel Gavins, Jack Senior and Stephanie Meadow also teeing it up on the island of Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Meadow, who like McKibbin is one of Galgorm’s Touring Professionals, will be joined in the women’s field by Republic of Ireland’s Leona Maguire, who will make her second Solheim Cup appearance next month, Major Champion Georgia Hall and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen, who finished fourth in this event in 2022.

Player quotes

Tom McKibbin: “I’ve played this event the last couple of years but it’s special to come back here this week and I’m very much looking forward to it and it should be a great week.

“I’m very proud. I think they’re great venues they have for the event and it’s set up nicely with the two fields, the men and the women, and I think it’s a pretty cool event.

“Castlerock is a good course. I think it’ll play quite tricky this week with a few of what are usually par fives playing as par fours this week. It’ll be interesting to see the scoring, here at Galgorm is great, it gets better every year. I’m looking forward to playing it, I’d say it’s one of the tougher venues we play all year so it should be good.”

Ewen Ferguson: “It helps coming back to some of the courses that I know towards the end of the year. I love Galgorm to bits, I have always played well there. I have not played Castlerock before so I am gauging it. It is a really nice course and hopefully I can get some tips as I am playing it. I feel good coming into the rest of the season, hopefully starting this week I can get a [good] result.

“I just remember the crowds being quite big coming down the last hole, loads of people cheering me on. Obviously it is not too far from home so I think it is familiar to Scotland. I actually can’t remember much. It is amazing how when you are focusing that hard and playing that well it is so intense. I remember celebrating at the end with my friends. That is what makes winning so special, especially in this game because it doesn’t happen often.”

Robert MacIntyre: “I am feeling good, feeling rested and ready for the next five to six weeks or however many I need to play. But no, I have had a nice break and I am just ready to get going again.

“I knew winning Italy last year was massive for the qualification and gave me a great start. I just had to play good golf from then on in and be there or thereabouts. Obviously I have timed my run pretty nicely with the result at the Scottish Open. I have been playing good golf. There has been a lot going on within my team, a couple of changes in there back and forth. Again, just yourself, trust the team around you and keep going.”

Victor Perez: “You always want to improve. If you are not trying to get better, then you are getting worse. That is my kind of mentality. I don’t think things ever stay the same. I always try to improve. At the same time if you are doing well then you don’t need to change much. I have had a nice progression and stretch of practice at home so it has been positive.

“I am confident but it is golf, you never know. It is supposed to be really windy. We now how golf can be in the wind. Here it is links, putt here bunker here. Bit of a gamble. You want to keep some humility. You might feel good, ready but it is golf and it might not always work out the way you want to. You have to go in knowing you are doing a lot of good things and then see how plays out.”

Leona Maguire: “I think in links in particular, I think with the winds, there’s some shots that you can hit four different clubs and there’s not really a right or a wrong club. It’s whatever you think at that moment in time.

“Whereas over here on this side at Galgorm it’s more target golf and you’re just going to hit it straight at the pin. An adjustment in mindset, but I think that’s the fun of it. I think it’s nice when you have to be a little bit more creative and use your imagination a little bit, and it’s not just stand up and hit it wherever you want. I think that’s the beauty of links golf.

“We played Castlerock pretty calm yesterday in one wind. You can hit driver-wedge one day and it could be driver-three wood the next day, so it kind of depends and you have to sort of judge it when you get there and take each one as it comes.

“I think the Irish fans are fantastic to come out and support their own, whether it’s golf or whether it’s Women’s World Cup a few weeks ago or whatever it is. I think it’s always nice to have people wishing you well and rooting you on and wanting to see you do well.”

Stephanie Meadow: “North West Ireland can be pretty unpredictable with weather, so yesterday we both played there. We stood on the range and it was pouring and windy and cold, and an hour later it was sunny and we had everything, all the layers off. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

“That was such an amazing memory to have all my friends and family here when I won. My husband was on the bag. To do it at a golf course where I took lessons up on the range there when I was 10 years old, I mean, talk about a transformation. Obviously a super special memory and I’m excited to be back here again.”

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