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Dawn of a new era for NZ Open

NZ Open organisers have a strong commitment to getting the largest event on New Zealand’s golfing calendar back on track in 2022 after a forced cancellation in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Despite the uncertainties that continue to exist we’re working hard behind the scenes to stage the March 31- April 3 tournament at Millbrook Resort and pulling out all stops to make sure it goes ahead,” says NZ Open chairman John Hart. “It is the tenth year this event has been held in its unique Pro-Am format and it’s really important to keep it going.”

He says the NZ Open is committed to the 102nd national tournament, to golf and to the Queenstown community.

“It’s a team effort and we couldn’t do this without the ongoing support and commitment of our event underwriter Millbrook Resort, NZ Major Events, the Regional Investment Fund, Golf New Zealand, Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Lakes Council. This is the team that has helped keep the show on the road with the utmost determination to deliver this event.”

John says it is the “dawn of a new era” for the NZ Open with the tournament being played for the first time over two distinct courses at Millbrook Resort – the Coronet 18 and the Remarkables 18.

The organising team believes the Coronet 18, designed by former leading NZ pro golfer Greg Turner and Scott McPherson, will be ranked among New Zealand’s top golf courses.

“2022 is the first time all four tournament rounds will be played at Millbrook taking full benefit of the fact that there are now two 18-hole courses at the resort.”

He says there is a demand for amateur places in the popular Pro- Am tournament which sees amateurs teamed with a pro over two days of competition.

“After the 2021 NZ Open was cancelled the majority of those entered in the Pro-Am rolled forward their spot to 2022,” says John. “However, due to the change of date and reduced daylight hours because of daylight saving, the size of the field has been reduced from 150 to 120. We are delighted to continue to support the Queenstown economy by staging the renowned Pro-Am event.”

World-class Coronet course

The championship Coronet 18, incorporates the spectacular new Coronet 9 in the recently developed area of Millbrook known as Mill Farm,  combined with the existing nine holes which is making its national and international debut during the NZ Open.

Designer Greg Turner says “Millbrook is coming of age with the new course which represents a 21st century evolution, a more modern version of previous courses. The transformation from the valley floor to the plateaus of the Coronet 9 completes a golfing journey which encompasses all there is to offer in the Whakatipu Basin.”

He anticipates the Coronet 18 par 5 11th tee looking towards Coronet Peak will become one of New Zealand’s most photographed golf holes while the new 12th tee is believed to be the highest point of any golf course in the country.

Australasian field

The bulk of the 2022 NZ Open field will be from Australia and New Zealand with Aussie Brad Kennedy expected to defend his 2020 title.

Tournament director Michael Glading says Kiwi Ryan Fox hopes to sign up along with Michael Hendry who was the last New Zealander to win the title, Josh Geary, Denzel Ieremia and Dan Hillier.

“Another name to watch will be Tae Koh who won the 2021 NZPGA championship. Tae became just the third Kiwi to win the Australian championship and then turned professional with a mixed bag of results. He is very impressive and now maybe on the path to realising some of his early potential.”

He says the new Coronet 9 has resulted in the Coronet 18 being genuinely world-class.

“The pros will only get to play the new course a couple of times in practice rounds and it will be exciting for spectators to see how they play the holes, many of which will be very challenging for them.”

Free entry to all

Entry to the 2022 NZ Open is free and people are encouraged to turn up for four days of superb golfing action.

“Due to the current economic challenges that exist in the region keeping the event free to the public is exactly what we need to do,” says tournament director Michael Glading. “We’re hoping lots of locals and visitors will take advantage of the free entry, bring along their family and friends and a picnic to enjoy the scenery, the atmosphere and the best golf in New Zealand.”

“There will be plenty of food and drink vendors on site at Millbrook and large outdoor screens to capture the exciting action around the course.”

Live action

Sky Sports will broadcast the 2022 NZ Open to 30 countries around the world showcasing New Zealand and its golf courses to a global audience with potentially over 320 million households viewing the tournament.

At home Sky will broadcast live from the event on Sky Sports 6 over all four days.

Four hours of footage will be screened each day along with an evening highlights package presenting the best of golf in both Central Otago and New Zealand.