Holden New Zealand Open field rated best ever

BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 New Zealand Open | General | 10 Jan 2004
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Organisers rate the field for next week’s 87th Holden New Zealand Open as the best in memory.

Record entries has led to an increase to 156 players to cope with the number of exempt players seeking entry into the Holden sponsored Open at The Grange from January 15-18.

“We’ve got record numbers of entries, it’s the deepest field we’ve hosted and therefore probably the best Open field,” tournament director Phil Aickin said.

Eight players competed on the US PGA Tour last year, 10 on the Japan Tour and seven from the European Tour.

“They are the big three tours in the world, so to have players of that level is outstanding,” Aickin said.

There are also 44 of the top 60 players in the 2003 Australasian Order of Merit entered in next week’s Open, along with a number of exciting young players who have gained their tour card in last week’s final qualifying school in Australia.

“At the top end we have three players who have won Majors in Sir Bob Charles, Dave Stockton and Wayne Grady, nine former Open champions and a number who have won the Australian Open.”

Charles won the 1963 British Open, Stockton a two-time winner of the US PGA which Grady also won in 1990.

“There’s something like 65 million golfers in the world and we have 65 players ranked in the top 800. That says something of the overall depth.”

Some of the other key players to enter before yesterday’s closing date include Australians Paul Sheehan, Craig Spence and Brendan Jones.

Spence was the 1999 Australian Masters champion, who has played on the US PGA and Nationwide Tours, and recently gained his European Tour card for 2004.

Sheehan, the former Australian amateur representative, moved to the Japan Tour this year with two runner-up efforts on his way to 20th on the Order of Merit, collecting NZ$635,000.

Jones has completed another outstanding season on the Japan Tour with victory in the Sun Chlorella Classic and two other runner-up finishes. He placed sixth on the Order of Merit, earning NZ$1.1 million last year.

“That group of players is typical of the quality and depth in this field. We are thrilled with the response. Next week’s Open will be incredibly exciting and very competitive.”

Aickin said he expects 2000 New Zealand Open champion Michael Campbell to compete next week. Campbell is recovering from an operation on his legs, but told organisers he is confident of playing next week.

However it’s likely that the 1992 Open champion Grant Waite will not start. He is currently in line for a start in the US PGA Tour event in Hawaii the same week.

“Grant has kept us fully informed. At present he’s in the field although entries have not closed. If he gets bumped out, he will fly down to play. Either way we are very happy for him and we know he will continue to support the Open in years to come.”

Source – NZGA

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