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Ogilvy's NZ Open decision confirms change of direction

Geoff Ogilvy will play New Zealand and Victorian Opens in a new look to his schedule. (Photo: Henry Peters)
The news today that Geoff Ogilvy will play next month's New Zealand Open in Queenstown is not only a great coup for the time-honoured tournament but also signals a change in direction for a man who hasn't played the event since 1998.

Ogilvy has relocated his family back to his hometown of Melbourne after an outstanding career in the US which yielded 8 PGA Tour titles including three World Golf Championships and, most importantly, a US Open victory at Winged Foot in 2006 where he was the last man standing as Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie folded on the 72nd hole.

The 41-year-old has become one of the most respected, eloquent, thoughtful and thought-provoking spokespersons on the game in addition to holding an enviable playing record and has earned more than US$30 million in his 18-year PGA Tour career.

He is also a winner of the Australian Open and PGA Championships and joins the likes of Tiger Woods, Corey Pavin and Michael Campbell as former US Open Champions to play the New Zealand Open.

The decision of Ogilvy to play in New Zealand comes at a time when his golfing career is in a transition although Ogilvy is not about to hang up the competitive shoes at this stage.

“I just wanted to be a Dad for a while and for my kids to experience Australia for a while like I did,” he told the Golfers Journal podcast recently.

“It had always been in my head that I wanted to come back to Australia for a while - at least for a period so that combined with not playing 25 or 30 tournaments in the next couple of years.

“I am playing a couple over here (Australia and New Zealand) early in the year including the Vic Open and the New Zealand Open which has me excited. Queenstown is one of the prettiest places in the world so I have had that on the wish-list for a few years but it has always clashed with Pebble or Honda or something like that.”

“The Victorian Open is a world first tournament in that the men and the women in both an LPGA and European Tour event (and Australasian) are playing for the same money where the tee times are alternated between the men and the girls.”

However, Ogilvy was quick to tell the New Zealand Open that he won't be there just to make up the numbers.

“The older you get, the more things like National Opens take pride of place on your resume. Tournaments like the New Zealand Open stand the test of time.”

“I knew Peter Thomson very well – a real legend who has won this tournament many times. I’ve also had the privilege to play a lot over the years with New Zealanders like Cambo and Phil Tataurangi,” he says.

Ogilvy's last New Zealand Open appearance in 1998 at the Formosa Golf Club in Auckland was not long after turning professional but it is not how he wants to be remembered. 

“The wind blew 100 miles an hour, it was my last tournament after nine in a row and it was one tournament too far. I didn’t make the cut - so let’s call this my first time properly at a New Zealand Open,” he jokes.

Ogilvy's appearance at The Hills and Millbrook Resort adds further lustre to a New Zealand Open already under the spotlight in 2019 as it is the event's 100th staging since first being played in 1907.

The 2019 New Zealand runs from February 28 to March 3 with the first two rounds alternating between The Hills and Millbrook before the final 36 holes will be played exclusively at The Hills.

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