14-year-old Remuera Golf Club member Ryan Xie made the most of the light winds to record a six-under 66 to lock up the first spot as no one was able to match his clinical round that included six birdies, an eagle, and two bogeys.
He got off to a fast start with four birdies in his opening nine and an eagle at the par 5 11th to get to six-under through 11 holes. He made another birdie on the 15th but made back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th to fall back to five. Xie was clutch playing the final hole, making a final birdie to post the day’s best score.
The birdie on the last also saw him move out of a log jam of players at five under, meaning a six-person playoff was needed to fill the final three spots in the New Zealand Open field.
Joshua Bai (Akarana), Jordan Loof (PGA), Sam An (PGA), Sam McGill (Clearwater), Steven Oh (PGA), and Gavin Fairfax (Australia) all carded 67s and headed back to the 18th hole to decide who’d progress.
The six played the first hole and made solid pars aside from Oh, who three-putted for a bogey and was eliminated.
The remaining five players headed to the 18th for the second extra hole. Fairfax and Bai played the 18th clinically, hitting the fairway and the green in regulation to take the pressure off as the others had missed the fairway and then the green. Bai two-putted for par to book his spot while Fairfax rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt to join the 16-year-old.
Loof, An, and McGill went to the third extra hole. An and McGill both secured pars before Loof stood over an 18-foot birdie putt, where he summoned memories from a couple of weeks ago when he won the Brian Green Property Group NZ Super 6s in a playoff. He subsequently rolled in the birdie and celebrated in a similar fashion, letting out all his emotions.
“You don’t know how much this means,” said an emotional Loof.
The four players are the final golfers to make up the New Zealand Open field, which gets under this Thursday.
Coverage begins at 2pm on Sky Sport 6.