Golf administrators and tournament hosts are always looking for ways to grow the sport. The birth of the ISPS Handa World Invitational is one example of the sort of innovative ideas being thrown about in the world of golf. The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) was founded by Haruhisa Handa in 2006 and is a Japanese non-profit organisation that believes in the power of sport, with a particular interest in golf. It promotes equality and has done a lot of work with disabled golf but this tournament is a huge step for equality between the men’s and women’s game.
Taking over from the Northern Ireland Open, which was an event on the Challenge Tour, the ISPS Handa World Invitational is tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour. It sees 144 men and 144 women compete on the same golf course, for equal prize funds ($1.5m in each) but in different tournaments.
Betting Tips for 29th July to 1st August
The European Tour has done some very good work promoting the Ladies European Tour this season and that work continues with the ISPS Handa World Invitational. Over 300 players from both tours will compete on the same golf courses, at the same time and for the same prize fund this week although they are competing in two separate events.
Galgorm Castle is a very well-manicured golf course that will be in immaculate condition this week. It doesn’t, however, have very much to trouble this standard of golfer. Scoring should be low on the par 70 layout which maxes out at a shade over 7,000 yards. John Catlin got to -10 in challenging conditions in last year’s Irish Open. It is going to be wet on Thursday and Friday but the winds are forecast to be only light so the winner should be well into the teens under par.
Catlin isn’t quite the defending champion but he will be feeling good upon his return to Galgorm Castle. The American’s recent form hasn’t been up to his recent levels but he has been competing in some very big events over the last few months. With all due respect, this is a return to the sort of level where Catlin should feel much more comfortable so he is a good price to go in again at Galgorm Castle at 28/1.
Eddie Pepperell is another player who could find that this relative drop in class is just what the doctor ordered. The Englishman’s results have been poor by his standards but there have been glimpses of some good golf and could just put it all together to earn a place at 40/1. Finally, consider Jack Senior at 50/1. The 33 year old has yet to win on the European Tour but earned one of his two Challenge Tour wins at Galgorm Castle and can go well again.
|2021||Galgorm Castle||Daniel Gavins|
2021: Daniel Gavins
The ISPS Handa World Invitational rightly earned a lot of good headlines in 2021. Golf fans, journalists and those involved in the sport talked of their delight at seeing men and women compete on the same course while Galgorm Castle proved to be a cracking venue. To put the icing on the cake, we were treated to a fantastic win by the previously unheralded Daniel Gavins.
Gavins came into the week in 453rd in the official world rankings and rated a real long shot by the bookies. Given that billing, the 30 year old did well to start the final round just seven shots off the lead and he said afterwards that he had no expectations of challenging for the title. However, it quickly became clear that he could play a part. He went out and played some aggressive golf which saw him make five birdies but most impressively he never really looked like dropping a shot even as the pressure increased and he moved higher up the leaderboard.
Gavins was unquestionably helped by the fact that he was playing so far ahead of the final groups. He did not have the pressure of the cameras following his every shot and by the time it became clear he was a factor, his round was nearly over. This was one of those days when everything just came together out on the course, and it just so happened that it was in a European Tour event and culminated in a life-changing win.