Three National Academy members to get their shot at New Zealand Open crown

Three of the country’s top Amateur players will tee it up at the New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport later this month and will be looking to make their mark on the 103rd edition of the iconic event when the tournament tees off at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown between February 29 and March 3.

As members of Golf New Zealand’s National Academy Jayden Ford, Joshua Bai and Zack Swanwick have received invites to contest both the New Zealand Open trophy as well as the title of leading amateur.

Golf New Zealand’s High Performance Manager, Gregg Thorpe is looking forward to seeing these young players prepare and compete for these coveted titles.

“Playing in the New Zealand Open is very special for all of the Kiwis in the field, but even more so for Jayden, Zack and Josh who are just beginning their golfing journeys at this level,” said Thorpe.

“Not only are they playing in their national Open in front of Kiwi golf fans and an international TV broadcast, but the tournament is a great platform for them to test their skills and processes against professionals who are playing on international golf tours, which is ultimately where these players want to play.”

As an added bonus, thanks to the support of New Zealand Open Major Sponsor, Craigs Investment Partners, Ford, Bai and Swanwick, will all receive a scholarship donation into their player trust accounts to be used towards their expenses.

Craigs Investment Partners are committed to supporting aspiring kiwi golfers reach their goals and believe that these donations will reduce both financial and other pressures that these young players typically face in the early stages of their careers.

“We want to help support the next generation of kiwi golfing stars and their journey to take their golfing careers to the next level. Our association with the New Zealand Open has made this possible” said Jeremy Williamson, Craigs Investment Partners Head of Private Wealth and Markets.

“We are supporting three leading male and three leading female amateur players through a donation into their playing trust accounts to be used for their development, travel and coaching. As a proudly 100% kiwi owned and grown business it’s important to us to help these amateur players take their game to the world stage and continue New Zealand’s proud heritage in the sport”.

Details of a similar support scheme for three female players will be announced shortly.

In addition to these player scholarships, Craigs Investment Partners are extending financial support to the leading amateur player after 72 holes at the 2024 New Zealand Open. The leading amateur will not only take home the prestigious Bledisloe Cup, but also a further $1,500, which will be donated by Craigs Investment Partners into their trust account to further assist them to reach their golfing goals.

About the Players:

Jayden Ford – 2023 Christies Floorings Mount Open Champion

Hailing from Judgeford Golf Club in Porirua, Jayden Ford has played in his first New Zealand Open in 2023 finishing in a tie for 26th at -10.

The 20 year old has already picked up a few accolades in his short career including the 2023 Christies Floorings Mount Open and the 2022 Avondale Amateur. Ford was also selected to represent New Zealand at the 2023 Eisenhower Trophy tournament and was a member of the New Zealand 2022 Junior Presidents Cup team.

“I was really happy with how I performed at last year’s New Zealand Open. It was an incredible experience and I’m really looking forward to doing it all again in a few weeks’ time.” Said Ford.

Joshua Bai also competed at the 2023 New Zealand Open representing Akarana Golf Club and was one of the youngest in the field at just 16.

Joshua Bai at the Carrus Open 2023

Bai claimed the 2023 North Island Stroke Play Champion and was a member of the 2022 Junior Presidents Cup team alongside Ford but probably his most notable finish was a second placing at the 2023 US Junior Amateur.

“I really enjoyed my first New Zealand Open last year. It was a big learning experience and I’m looking forward to applying those learnings in a few weeks’ time. Hopefully, I’m able to put some good scores together and make my family, friends, and Kiwi golf fans proud.”

2024 will be the first time Zack Swanwick has the opportunity to line up at a New Zealand Open but it will not be the first national Open he plays in.

Zack Swanwick at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship

The 18 year old from Napier Golf Club, won the 2023 Australian Boys’ Amateur which earned him a start at the 2023 Australian Open. Swanwick has risen quickly in the Amateur ranks and has both the 2022 & 2023 NZ Age Group Championships on his mantel piece already.

“It’s an honour to play in my first New Zealand Open. It’s been a dream of mine to play my home national Open in front of friends, family, and Kiwi golf fans, so to have a spot in the field means a lot. Hopefully, I’m able to perform well and have a great week.”

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