2004 Australasian PGA Tour kicks off with NZ Open

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 New Zealand Open | Preview | 14 Jan 2004
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The first event on the 2004 Australasian PGA Tour calender gets underway in Auckland tomorrow when the Holden New Zealand Open field takes to the fairways of the Grange Golf Club.

The Grange Golf Club has previously staged the Open in 1970, 1986, 1995 and 2001. Strategically positioned amongst the commercial hub of New Zealand, the course, while not considered amongst New Zealand’s best, is certainly in better condition than I have previously seen it in and when the event gets underway tomorrow morning everything possible has been done to ensure that it will provide as good a test as is possible.

The course features just two par fives and four par threes in its par 70 layout with many of the holes requiring other than driver from the tees. The type of golfer who has won here previously, reflects a golf course that requires placement and strategy as a key ingredients for succcess and as such we can expect golfers whose game revolves around such to do well.

The field is headed, in terms of world ranking, by Michael Campbell who is just back from vein surgery on his legs. Campbell, won the New Zealand Open in 2000, was then runner up here the following year to David Smail and second to Craig Parry in 2002. Although he may not yet be fit enough yet to win here this week, his class as the 44th ranked player in the game may see him contending at least.

Peter O’Malley won in 1995 at this course and seems to have an affinity with golf in this country. He was the New Zealand Amateur champion in 1986, the New Zealand Open Champion in 1995 and the winner of the 2002 Clearwater Classic in Christchurch. Although he missed the cut in his last event, the Australian Open, he is a class act and should be not left out of consideration.

Peter Senior was the recent Australian PGA Champion and his current form would make him a standout here. This is golf, however, and sometimes form does not always count for much. Peter has not had a great run at the New Zealand Open, making only one cut in his last five attempts in the event.

Peter Fowler is a quasi local having lived in Auckland in recent years and, given the resurgence in his game of late, looks well placed to continue a run of form that saw him finish 4th at the recent Australian Open.

Speaking of the Australian Open, the 24-year-old Queenslander Chris Downes, who led into the last round of this event last year and did the same at the recent Australian Open, eventually finishing second, is justifiably one of the favourites.

West Australian Nick O’Hern has the style of game to do well around the Grange layout and although his immediate pre-Xmas form in Australia was just average he is coming off his best year on the European Tour and is expected to do well.

Another young Australian who appears on the verge of a fine career in the game is South Australian Wade Ormsby who despite finishing 2nd at the European Tour School he has decided to play here in preference to hoping for a spot at the South African Airways Open also on this week. He finished fifth as an unknown at this event last year and has improved to another level again in the last few months.

Others who may be considered are Scott Laycock, Greg Chalmers and Craig Spence who seems to be finding his game after a couple of years in the golfing wilderness.

Conditions are expected to be fine and warm for the week with much interest in who will jump to an early lead in the 2004 Australasian Order of Merit.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game 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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