Hendry shaping as NZ Open favourite

The BMW New Zealand Open gets underway at the Clearwater Resort in Christchurch this week, the $400,000 tournament bringing together what is effectively a Tier 2 field but that should not stop the event being a great contest between several in form players from both sides of the Tasman.

The leading world ranked player in the field is the talented Mike Hendry (350) who finished 6th at last week's Talisker Masters in Melbourne and 4th at last month's Perth International against fields considerably stronger than he will face this week.

Earlier in 2012 Hendry won the New Zealand PGA Championship in Queenstown and in 2010 he won the Indonesian Open. Hendry will play at next week's final stage of qualifying for the Japan Golf Tour where is he is able to secure the right to play that Tour he is expected to further develop his significant game.

Mark Brown tied for 3rd last week and there is little doubt of his class as a player having previously won a Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour. He appears to be rebuilding his game with a win at the Tauranga Open in October and several good OneAsia and PGA Tour of Australasia finishes of late.

Gareth Paddison tied for 3rd last week with Brown and despite an overall ordinary year the left hander appears to be a confidence player and there is no doubt that his effort last week has him primed for a great week.

Nick Cullen did not play last week in Melbourne but he is one of Australia's more improved players in the last eighteen months. His win in Indonesia earlier this year and a couple of good finishes of late when he has played has him well placed to better his effort when 5th in this event last year.

Peter O'Malley has not played often this year but in recent weeks he has put a few tournaments together and has begun to play well.

Nobody has a better record at Clearwater than Peter O'Malley, the 47 year old having won a Clearwater Classic and an New Zealand PGA Championship at the venue when those events were Nationwide Tour events.

O'Malley is the only player to have won the New Zealand Amateur, Open and PGA Championships having won the Open in 1995. Seventeen years down the track another win at Clearwater is not beyond him.

The amateurs in the field are headed by Australians Jake Higginbottom and Nathan Holman and New Zealand's rising star Vaughn McCall.

The tournament has been kept going despite the difficulty of securing sponsorship and sufficient monies to do so.

Importantly for both New Zealand golf and the grief stricken Christchurch it is a case of being thankful it has.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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