Richard Green confirmed for Holden New Zealand Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2005 New Zealand Open | General | 16 Dec 2004
Australasian Order of Merit winner Richard Green today confirmed his entry in February’s Holden New Zealand Open at Gulf Harbour.
Green, who took out the Mastercard Masters title in Melbourne at the weekend, is one of three lefthanders from across the Tasman who today indicated their intention to enter the 2005 Open from February 10-13 according to Greg Turner, the Holden New Zealand Open player liaison.
The Order of Merit champion will be joined by fellow Australian lefthanders Nick O’Hern and Greg Chalmers for the Open, which will be co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
Green and O’Hern have enjoyed outstanding years on both the European and Australasian tours, while Chalmers competed on the US Tour.
Green was 17th on the European Tour as well as No 1 on the Australasian Tour, with European earnings of approximately NZ$2.3 million. The 33-year-old Victorian became the first lefthander for more than 20 years to win on the European Tour when he triumphed in the 1997 Dubai Classic and has been a consistent top-50 finisher since.
After a solid start to the season, Green produced back-to-back runner-up efforts in the French and European Opens, and was also runner-up in the KLM Open. He finished with five top-10 finishes in the last 12 tournaments.
His victory in the MasterCard Masters in a playoff in Huntingdale, Victoria last week sealed the Australasian Order of Merit with earnings of approximately NZ$400,000.
Green is keen to return to Gulf Harbour where he played for Australia in the World Cup of Golf in 1998.
“I have good memories of that tournament and of Auckland. I am really looking forward to coming back. The co-sanction with the European Tour makes it a good opportunity for me,” Green said.
“I want to play the early European events to free me up for other major events next year. It’s been a fantastic year for me and winning at the weekend has capped it off.”
His victory and order of merit success have earned him a start in the US Open and other tournaments in the US, while his world ranking of 63 will likely earn him a start in the Accenture World Match Play after the Holden New Zealand Open.
O’Hern had his most successful year in Europe, finishing 12th on the European Order of Merit with 10 top-10 finishes, earning approximately NZ$2.6 million. His highlights included runner-up finishes in the French Open and Linde German Masters, along with third place in the Caltex Masters in Singapore and the Diageo Championship at Gleneagles.
The 33-year-old from Western Australia has a strong sporting pedigree, and chose golf over possible professional careers in baseball or tennis. He gained his European card in his first attempt in 1998 with his three professional career victories in Australia, most notably the Coolum Classic in five years ago.
Chalmers was one of the players beaten by Green in the playoff for the Masters at the weekend.
The talented Australian, who has enjoyed seven seasons on the PGA Tour, finished outside of the top 125 players this year although he enjoyed three top-20 finishes including fourth at the John Deere Classic. The former Australian open and ANZ Players Championship winner earned approximately NZ$750,000 this year in the Untied States.
Turner said the significantly increased prizemoney of the event, more than doubled to NZ$1.5 million and status with co-sanction with the European Tour was a major added incentive for the leading Australians, especially those already based in Europe.
“This is an example of a level of golfer who has not played regularly in New Zealand in the past three or four years,” Turner said.
“Green and O’Hern are very strong performers in Europe, which is the second strongest tour in the world. And Greg Chalmers is a fine player well capable of winning this tournament.”
“I’ve had a favourable reaction from a number of Australian players and would expect more leading players to commit to New Zealand in the coming weeks.”
Turner also expects to receive the first indication of some of the European players next week.
Source – NZGA
Photo – Anthony Powter