Hopefuls tee-off in chase for spots in ISPS Handa New Zealand Open

Over 140 golfers from throughout the country will begin the process to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which is the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown.

New Zealand Golf will run four regional qualifying tournaments throughout the country next week, with 25 players to earn spots in final qualifying for the nation’s premier golf tournament.

Only six players will ultimately progress from final qualifying events in Wellington and Cromwell on Monday 26 February to the final field for the 99th ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown on 1 to 4 March at Millbrook Resort and The Hills.

Hopefuls will be chasing for a place in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown. (Photosport)

New Zealand Golf general manager Dave Mangan said they were pleased with the 141 entries, up from 120 last year.

Eighteen players will tee it up at the regional qualifier in Otago at the Otago Golf Club (Balmacewen); 35 entered at the Christchurch Golf Club (Shirley) and 23 at Wellington’s Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. These three events will be on Monday 29 January. The final regional event has attracted 65 entries to the Titirangi Golf Club in Auckland on Tuesday 30 January.

The 25 successful players, decided on a pro rata basis, will go through to the final qualifying tournaments at either Paraparaumu Beach or Cromwell golf clubs on Monday 27 February. They will join the exempt amateurs and professionals who miss out on direct entry, with the six leading scorers, again on a pro rata basis, to move through to the final field for the $1.2 million ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.

“It is encouraging to see so many players chase a dream of playing in the New Zealand Open,” said Mangan. “At this stage our 10 top amateurs on the Order of Merit at the end of 2017 and the leading 50 players from the New Zealand PGA Order of Merit are automatically through to final qualifying.

“We have several professionals and a mix of young and experienced amateurs who will take their chance at the regional qualifiers.”

That includes a couple of sons of guns in the Auckland regional qualifier. Sam Reese, who was a leading player at Westlake Boys High School and now based out of Hamilton, is the son of former New Zealand Amateur and New Zealand PGA Champion Stuart Reese.

Likewise Queenstown-based Sam Turner, son of the two-time New Zealand Open champion, Greg Turner, will venture north to play in the Auckland qualifier.

There are entries from USA and Canada with the New Zealand amateurs spread from Kerikeri to Invercargill.

For details: www.golf.co.nz

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