Local golfers teeing up at New Zealand Open

Tauranga’s Josh Presley and Kieran Muir at the Fiji International in 2018. Photo: Peter White.

It was heartening to read recently that New Zealand’s highest ranked player Ryan Fox wants to win the New Zealand Open title more than any other tournament.

More than the Masters, the Open or the Australian PGA title.

I love this event (finishing Sunday) that is held in the middle of the jaw-dropping scenery in Queenstown at the Millbrook Resort and The Hills courses.

The New Zealand Open is an iconic event, steeped in history and drama dating back to 1907. Some of the game’s greats including multiple Major winners have their names on the trophy.

This year the tournament again includes a field of 156 amateurs and 156 professionals playing alongside one another. The professional golfers will compete for the New Zealand Open title while pairs of one professional and one amateur will play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Open Pro-Am Championship.

Also for the first time, a female professional will tee it up. Swedish golf star Pernilla Lindberg will break new ground by playing in the men’s field in an historic first for the event. She is paired with All Black Beauden Barrett in the Pro-Am.

Well done NZ Golf for leading the way in what, in years to come, may well become the norm.

Tauranga is well represented with Josh Geary, who finished second last year, Mark Brown, Luke Toomey and Kieran Muir looking to win the coveted New Zealand Open title.

Kieran learnt the game as a kid at the picturesque Omokoroa Golf Club. The 32-year-old has survived 10 years as a tour pro through plenty of ups and downs. He is comfortable with where his game is at and confident of doing well.

This week will be his eighth New Zealand Open. He had a good year in 2019 on the China Golf Association Tour, with a win and a second to finish fifth on the Order of Merit.

He followed that up with finishing second on the NZ Golf Order of Merit to gain a spot in the field for Queenstown.

“It has probably taken me a lot longer to get to this point in my career as I hoped but I am very proud of what I have achieved, very happy with where I am going and excited for the future,” says Kieran.

“The thing about the New Zealand Open over the last 10 years is that every year the tournament gets better in every aspect including the field getting stronger.

“There will be a lot of other tours around the world starting to look at different ways to do things like the pro-am format that has been successful here.”

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