14 Mar 2012 - Source: NZ PGA
An impressive field has been confirmed for the inaugural New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship starting in Queenstown on March 29.
The change to a new celebrity pro-am format has attracted professionals from all corners of Australia and New Zealand, along with a trio of players from further afield.
Australian Brendan Jones is the top ranked player confirmed for the tournament, ending 2011 ranked 80 in the world, but he is unlikely to have things his own way. Ten time US PGA TOUR winner David Frost from South Africa is expected to mount a challenge, as are tour veterans Craig Parry, Peter O'Malley, Peter Fowler, David Smail, Mark Brown and Phil Tataurangi who all have impressive credentials of their own.
Others to watch include New Zealand's Ryan Fox who already has a professional title to his name, despite only joining the play for pay ranks in January and Australian Jin Jeong who appears destined for great heights having won the British Amateur in 2010 before notching up a top 20 finish at The Open Championship at St Andrews in the same year.
A number of other players come into the tournament in good form including Gareth Paddison, Adam Crawford and Scott Arnold having each won a PGA Tour of Australasia event in the past six months. Organisers have also added an international flavour to the tournament by inviting Japanese pro Jay Choi and China's Zhang Xin Jun. Jay Choi is the only player ever to have made it from stage one of qualifying school to the top 25 on the money list in the same year on the Japan Golf Tour, while Zhang finished 13th in the HSBC Champions,a World Golf Championship event last year.
Tournament organisers are thrilled with the quality of the field with it being one of the strongest for a tournament with comparable prizemoney on the PGA Tour of Australasia in recent years.. The demand for places in the 132 strong field also means that approximately 80 golfers will have to pre-qualify for 10 available places at either Millbrook or Titirangi on March 26th.
“We are looking forward to heading back to The Hills for the New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship, the quality of the field is certainly a testament to the hard work being put into the event by the PGA of New Zealand and is a great sign for golf in the region,” said Brian Thorburn CEO of the PGA of Australia which encompasses the Tour.
“In such a spectacular setting top quality golf won’t be the only thing drawing the attention of spectators at the event, I strongly encourage all sporting fans to come out to The Hills and witness what is sure to be memorable golf at a picturesque course.”
PGA of New Zeland CEO Duncan Simpson is particularly delighted to see his organisation associated again with a major regional golf championship, after a two year hiatus.
"There's no doubt the innovative format and the venue have given the tournament a new lease of life. The Hills is a course that creates excitement and anticipation for players and spectators alike as soon as you walk in the gate, and the blend of amateurs, professionals and celebrities will make it a unique experience for everyone," he said.
"I'm also thrilled with the degree of interest and engagement from our own PGA members to help run the tournament and the PGA area on the ‘19th’, which will feature clinics and free pointers from some of our best coaching professionals. As well, a number of them are having a crack at the tournament itself, including some who don't compete regularly on the PGA NZ Pro-Am circuit. Who knows, we might see a real rags to riches story on tournament Sunday, but equally success could fall to one of our seasoned professionals or recent PGA of New Zealand Q-School graduates, to enable them to them to step up to the next level on the PGA Tour of Australasia or further afield."
The New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship runs from Thursday March 29 to Sunday, April 1. Tickets are available now from Ticketek.
NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship Communications Manager,
Tel: 027 440 9964