New Zealand Open Organisers Thrilled With Status of Tournament

Tournament Director Michael Glading is delighted with the strength and depth of players for this week’s 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown.

Glading said he is delighted with the quality of the field, NZ$2M prize purse, the excellent condition of the Millbrook Resort courses and the international ambience of Queenstown.

He said the organisation has focussed on strength in depth rather than chasing a big-name player for the tournament which is the third major event on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, jointly sanctioned with the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.

“We have some of their top players from the Asian Tour. Within Japan, with such a changing pro environment, we have seven guys in their 20s where traditionally we have attracted the older Japanese player.

“From Australia, we have the likes of emerging young players David Micheluzzi and Travis Smyth who are both world-class players. And from this part of the world, not only is there young Kazuma Kobori who has taken this part of the world by storm, there’s Dan Hillier and Ben Campbell along
with the likes of proven players like Steven Alker and Michael Hendry who are more than capable of winning it and in some cases have already.

“And of course there’s defending champion Brendan Jones and Brad Kennedy who has won twice.

Strength in depth is what we have worked on trying to achieve here.”

Glading said the local of Queenstown is also a key factor.

“Queenstown in a nutshell attracts the players back. Queenstown from my mind is paradise. I know that Is cliched but it lives up to it.

“The venue has a lot to do with it also. Both golf courses are in fantastic conditions. Millbrook Resort for a Pro-Am just could not be better.

“And our amateur involvement is crucial not just for the economics, but also the special atmosphere that this tournament has built.”

Glading said the NZ$2M prize purse has the tournament close to where it set its sights more than a decade ago.

“There is a level that we are close to achieving. We want to be in the upper level of the Asian Tour, the Japan Tour and the Australasian Tour and I think we are pretty much achieving that.”

There are several former champions in the field of 156 professionals, including two-time winner Kennedy and defending champion Jones, with special mention of 2017 winner Michael Hendry, the last New Zealander to achieve the feat, who returns after recovery from leukaemia.

The tournament tees off on Thursday with a cut for the top 60 professionals plus tied for the final two rounds on the weekend with live coverage on Sky Sport 6 from 2.30 pm Thursday February 29.

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