NFL Superstar headlines New Zealand Open ambassador line-up

NFL legend Larry Fitzgerald, named this week as the NFL’s “Anything but Ordinary Player of the Year” after 16 years with the Arizona Cardinals, will venture to Queenstown this month to play in the New Zealand Open, presented by SKY Sport.

Fitzgerald, one of the most acclaimed wide receivers in the sport’s history, is also a renowned golfing fanatic and single figure player, who will join the sporting ambassadors to play alongside the professionals at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from 27 February to 1 March.

The American is no stranger to the game. Fitzgerald’s golfing exploits include scoring a hole in one while playing with former president Barack Obama and winning the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pro-Am in California (with professional Kevin Streelman) two years ago.

The New Zealand Open is modelled on a similar format, with 156 professionals joined by 156 amateurs for the opening two rounds at Millbrook Resort and The Hills.

Fitzgerald will join sporting celebrities playing in the tournament including All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Sean Fitzpatrick and Israel Dagg, cricketers Shane Warne, Stephen Fleming, Sir Ian Botham, Chris Harris and double international Jeff Wilson.

“Our ambassadors add much to the tournament, not just on the course where they are all passionate golfers, but off it where they work in the local community and mix with our paying amateur guests,” said New Zealand Open Tournament Director, Michael Glading.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have attracted Larry to travel to New Zealand after a suggestion from another amateur competitor knows him. Larry is a golfing tragic and plays as much as he can when he is not involved in the NFL”.

Fitzgerald has played for the Arizona Cardinals since he was drafted in 2004 and since then has been selected for the Pro Bowl 11 times and is currently second on the all-time list for career receiving yards, second in career receptions and sixth in receiving touchdowns.

He has established trusts to fund positive activities for children and support families in crisis as well as health-related organisations that work with families. He also has a fund in honour of his late mother (who died of breast cancer) that helps educate urban youth about HIV/AIDS and breast cancer issues, of which he is the NRL spokesperson.

Fitzgerald shot 120 in his first game of golf, but that included two birdies which sparked his interest.

“I was hooked and the next day I started hitting balls and it became an obsession. It is a microcosm of life. You are going to have great shots, completely horrible shots and you’re going to do stupid, stupid things. You learn so much about someone about how they handle adversity and how they handle prosperity. That’s why I really enjoy it.”

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