New Zealand golfing legend, Sir Bob Charles, recalls winning his first New Zealand Open as a fresh 18-year-old amateur at Heretaunga in 1954 - his first of four New Zealand Open Championship wins.
Charles is just one of the great Kiwi golfers who will be attending the 100th year of the New Zealand Open in 100 days’ time, on 28 February 2019, at Millbrook Resort and The Hills in Queenstown.
Organisers of The Open today announced the start of a one-hundred-day countdown leading up to this year’s tournament, one of New Zealand’s oldest sporting events. 100 times, the New Zealand Open has attracted elite, international golf professionals to New Zealand to compete in this world-class tournament. In doing so it has created a springboard for local talent to advance their careers in a sport where New Zealand consistently punches above its weight, producing many world-class players.
Charles remembers, “To win the New Zealand Open meant a lot to me. It is where I got my start displaying my skills against the very best in the world." New Zealand Professionals competing include Ryan Fox, Steve Alker, Tim Wilkinson, Ben Campbell and Mark Brown, as well as former champions Mike Hendry (2017), David Smail (2001) and Michael Long (1996).
For the next 100 days these players, along with other golfing dignitaries, will celebrate this milestone and reflect on the great competition, careers, players and shots over the history of the tournament and the game since the first Open in 1907. They will share their stories, trivia and memories in the build-up to a programme of events alongside this year’s Open to mark the occasion.
Organisers are particularly thrilled to have Ryan Fox return to play in next year’s event. “Ryan is now a top 100 player in the world, and can pick and choose which events he will play. For him, the New Zealand Open has as high a priority as any of golf’s majors and we couldn’t be more grateful for his support,” says Tournament Director Michael Glading.
New Zealand Open organisers announced that this year’s international field will also include a large number of additional past champions, including last year’s winner Daniel Nisbet, Matt Griffin (2016), Jordan Zunic (2015), Dimi Papadatos (2014), Jake Higginbottom (2012), Brad Kennedy (2011), Peter O’Malley (1995) and Peter Fowler (1993). At least 20 professionals from the Japan Tour and 30 from the Asian Tour will be competing, guaranteeing plenty of world-class competition to entertain crowds.
While only seven professionals teed off in 1907 at the Waiohiki Napier Golf Club, 152 professional golfers will compete for the 2019 New Zealand Open Title and $1.3 million prize pool. Simultaneously, a pairing of one professional and one amateur will play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship. A Tier One event co-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour, the New Zealand Open’s Pro-Am format makes the New Zealand Open unique in the Asia-Pacific region.
With just 100 days to go before the start of the 100th New Zealand Open, interest is hotting up. According to Sir Bob Charles, “100 tournaments of the iconic New Zealand Open is something all kiwis should feel proud of. Golf is a part of our sporting heritage - reaching 100 years is a phenomenal achievement for New Zealand sport and something that deserves celebrating.”
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