One Direction's Niall Horan ready to tee-off at Irish pro-am event
Published 27/07/2016 | 11:37
The Northern Ireland Open tees-off today with the pro-am event at Galgorm Castle.
Now in its fourth year, the NI Open, in partnership with Ulster Bank, has become one of the stand-out events on the European Challenge Tour.
Among those taking part in the pro-am event is One Direction star Niall Horan.
The star made schoolgirl Holly Carlin's (9) day when she was one of a few lucky fans who met the One Direction star after he played a round of golf in her hometown.
The singer agreed to sign an autograph for the starstruck schoolgirl, and then took a quick picture beside Holly, who was wearing her favourite One Direction T-shirt.
The young fan threw her arms around her hero the moment he agreed to take a snap, and she was even more delighted when the star took off his golf glove and handed it to her.
"She is still in the clouds," her mother Kelly explained. "It was like a dream come true. She has loved him since she was four. She's always asked me if I think she'd ever get to meet him. We were planning to go to the Open on Wednesday, and I had warned her that she probably wouldn't get near him, so it's unbelievable that it happened like this."
In 2015, the province's annual international tournament set the Tour's all-time attendance record when 39,423 spectators spilled through the gates to witness France's Clément Sordet be crowned champion.
The strong field boasts a mix of leading international players and more familiar names from closer to home. The youngest player on show will be Northern Ireland's latest teenage sensation Tom McKibbin after the 13-year-old received an invite from Modest! Golf Management.
Wednesday marks the official opening of the week-long festival in Co Antrim.
He will join other household names like Northern Ireland goalkeeping legend Pat Jennings and Ulster rugby player Stephen Ferris.
The festival of golf, combined with the dedicated food festival and NI Open Village, will run at Galgorm Castle from July 28-31.