Over 5,000 golf fans turned out to watch Rory McIlroy defeat Padraig Harrington in the inaugural Lough Erne Challenge over the newly-opened Faldo Course.

McIlroy carded a course record 68 to Harrington’s 70, picking up a cheque for €200,000 and the specially commissioned Belleek Trophy in the process, but both players heaped praise on the Fermanagh Resort.

“Northern Ireland is really crying out for a European Tour event and Lough Erne is set up so well for tournament golf. The course has come on really well since I was last here and it was great to see so many local people out there supporting us.”

Three-time Major winner Harrington, who has had a disappointing season following last year’s heroics, added: “It really is a hidden gem in a a beautiful area and when you get the weather you couldn’t wish for a better place in the world.”

The Lough Erne Challenge marked the official opening of The Faldo Course, widely regarded as Ireland’s newest golfing masterpiece. Created by six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo, the Par 72 course is set on a breathtaking peninsula between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough, and is already being earmarked as an obvious venue for future

prestigious European Tour events.

Where next?

Industry news: Bushnell introduces Pro 1600 laser rangefinder
Equipment reviews: Adams Speedline driver review
Competitions: Win a trip to Dubai