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NZ Open adopts NZPGA's successful format

(Photo: Bruce Young)
The New Zealand Open is returning to Queenstown next year and is set to be the biggest golfing event hosted in New Zealand for many years.

The tournament, sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, will be held from February 27 to March 2 at The Hills Golf Course and Millbrook Resort. It will include a unique pro-am format played concurrently with the professional tournament, following the principles established for the 2013 NZPGA Championship.

The purse for the event will be a minimum of NZD$850,000 (this figure will be finalised once current stakeholder negotiations have been concluded).

A return to Queenstown is the result of New Zealand Golf, the PGA of New Zealand and Michael Hill Tournaments Limited coming to an agreement on the future structure of major men's golf tournaments in New Zealand.

The parties have agreed to pool resources with the aim of creating one truly iconic golf tournament.

John Hart, the Tournament Chairman, said this was a landmark agreement by all parties involved.

"We believe that this will be a world first for a National Open Championship to incorporate a pro-am format and it will be an exciting new era for the NZ Open."

Tournament Host Sir Michael Hill echoed Hart's sentiments.

"Today's announcement heralds the beginning of a new era of golf in this country," said the owner of The Hills Golf Club who held the NZ Open in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

"We have the ingredients to develop a legendary tournament and it has my full support and that of my family."

Brian Thorburn, the Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of Australia, commended the positive moves made by the New Zealand golfing bodies.

"The New Zealand Open is an integral tournament on the PGA Tour of Australasia and I am pleased to see it sitting alongside our other premier tournaments including the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Open," said Thorburn.

"Our Professionals enjoy returning to Queenstown and with the introduction of the Pro-Am format made so successful by the NZPGA, the New Zealand Open is sure to be a highlight on the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2014."

The success of the tournament structure at The Hills over the past two years has also led to the signing of a milestone partnership agreement between the event organisers and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

John Hart said: "The partnership agreement with the JGTO signed following a visit to Japan was a major step forward in the internationalisation of the event and towards our vision to create the pre-eminent tournament experience in the Asia Pacific region.

"The Japan Tour is one of the most lucrative and respected professional tours in the world and we look forward to welcoming 15 leading JGTO players to play in the 2014 NZ Open. We are delighted that the

New Zealand Open will become only the third international tournament outside of Japan to have an association with the JGTO."

Tournament Organisers are approaching professional and celebrity players to participate in the New Zealand Open with further announcements to be made closer to the event.

The celebrities who have played past events at The Hills have included Sir Ian Botham, Hollywood actor Don Cheadle, world number one ladies amateur Lydia Ko and a number of sporting icons from Australia and New Zealand.

The scheduling change to February 2014 means that no New Zealand Open will be held in the 2013 calendar year. There have been three occasions of this in the history of the NZ Open (1990, 1999 and 2008) and all were due to the rescheduling of the tournament dates.

Fact sheet

"¢ The NZ Open Champion will be the leading player after 72 holes of stroke play

"¢ The new tournament format will be played across two courses with a minimum field of 132
professional golfers. Rounds 1 and 2 will be played at Millbrook Resort and at The Hills, with the
final 2 rounds played at the Hills

NZ Pro-Am Championship

"¢ The NZ Pro-Am Championship will run concurrently to the main tournament.

"¢ Each professional will be paired with an amateur playing two rounds, one at each course, in a best
ball format. Following the second round, a professional and Pro-Am cut will see the final two
rounds played at The Hills.

"¢ The top 30 Pro-Am teams will progress to round 3 at the Hills and the top 10 Pro-Am teams will
progress to play in the final round.

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