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New Zealand Open Spotlight

After a two-year hiatus the largest event on New Zealand’s golfing calendar, the New Zealand Open, is back in play in 2023.

Tournament chairman John Hart says the event scheduled for March 2 until March 5 represents a return to normality following the Covid-19 pandemic and he paid tribute to stakeholders for their support through a challenging time.

“All our major sponsors renewed their commitment to our event which is extremely gratifying. It promises to be a big year but also a rebuilding year, getting the show back on the road.”

One hundred and fifty six professionals will compete on Millbrook’s Coronet and Remarkables courses for the Brodie Breeze Trophy, first presented in 1923 and won by reigning champion Brad Kennedy of Australia in 2020.

The Pro-Am format will be played for the tenth successive year with paying amateurs paired with professionals in a simultaneous best-ball format. Interest in the event is high with the amateur field sold out and a significant international wait list.

“We’re committed to golf and the Queenstown community and can’t wait to see the tournament being played for the first time solely at Millbrook Resort on two distinct courses,” says John.

“The Coronet 18 is still very new to our professionals and will be a great test for them. It will be the first time spectators can walk around the new course and see them play the challenging new holes.”

General view of the Champions Lounge during the final round. 101st New Zealand Golf Open, Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown, New Zealand. Sunday 1 March 2020. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

World-class Millbrook courses

New Zealand Open event underwriter Millbrook Resort has invested in a new nine holes to complete the Coronet 18 enabling it to host the 2023 event over two courses.

A renovated golf shop, new 1000 square metre practice putting green and a new fleet of golf carts housed in a state-of-the-art storage barn are also part of the recent upgrading project. 

The runaway success of Millbrook’s 36-hole operation also triggered significant investment into extensions and improvements at its driving range opening to coincide with the influx of tournament players.

Competitors will play alternate rounds over the first two days on the Remarkables and Coronet courses before the Friday evening (March 3) cut which will see 60 professionals and the top 40 Pro-Am teams competing in the final weekend of play.

The Open organising team believes the Coronet course, designed by Scott McPherson and  former Kiwi pro golfer Greg Turner, will be ranked among New Zealand’s top golf 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,” says Greg.

He anticipates the Coronet 18  number 11 par 5 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.

Harry Bateman. 101st New Zealand Golf Open, Millbrook Golf Course, New Zealand. 01 March 2020, Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

Kiwi and international players to compete

Leading Kiwi professional Steven Alker has confirmed his entry in the New Zealand Open as he looks to build on his four 2022 winning performances on the USPGA Champions Tour. 

“The New Zealand Open is and will always be on my bucket list of events to win. How could you not want to have your name on the national trophy alongside the greats of our sport like Sir Bob Charles, Kel Nagle, Peter Thomson, Ian Baker-Finch and Michael Campbell?” says Steven.

2020 winner Australian Brad Kennedy will also return to defend his New Zealand Open title with the co-sanctioned Tier One Australasian and Asian tour event providing a prize purse of around $1.6 million.

Tournament director Michael Glading says the international field will again include numerous up and coming young players from around the world. 

“We’re proud of the fact that three of this year’s International Presidents Cup team  played in the New Zealand Open in Queenstown before breaking on to the world stage. We’ve hosted many of the world’s most promising players from Asia and Australasia and the 2023 event will again feature some of the best young players from around the region.”

Australian Nick Flanagan plays a shot through the trees on the 10th during the Final round. Brad Kennedy won by 2 shots, in the Final round, 101st New Zealand Golf Open, at Millbrook, Arrowtown, New Zealand. 01 March 2020 Photo: Brett Phibbs / www.photosport.nz

Free entry

Entry to the 2023 New Zealand Open is free and people are encouraged to turn up for all four days of what is anticipated to be spectacular golfing action.

“It’s been a tough few years for many in the region so delivering an amazing sporting event free to the public is absolutely what we need to do,” says tournament director Michael Glading. 

“We’re encouraging locals to put the dates in the diary and bring along family and friends for a picnic and get-together, while visitors are bound to love the atmosphere, the scenery and of course the best golf in New Zealand”.

Michael Glading

He says some of Queenstown’s best known food and drink vendors will be on site and outdoor screens will capture exciting action around the course in what promises to be a festival atmosphere.