NZ Open: Perception not always reality
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2009 New Zealand Open | General | 14 Mar 2009
When a decision was made by the various parties to jointly sanction the 2009 New Zealand Open Championship with the Nationwide there were those who believed the loss of the association with the European Tour might work against the event in terms of field strength. The reality has proven to be considerably different from the perception.
On the last occasion the tournament was staged at this venue in December of 2007 the leading world ranked player in the field was Sweden’s Daniel Chopra. Despite finishing runner up the previous week at the Australian Masters and winning on the US PGA Tour two months earlier, the Swede was only the 120th world ranked player when he teed it up.
Richard Finch, the winner of the event that year was outside the top 500 at that time and even his victory would only move him to the level of the 283rd ranked player.
In 2009 David Smail holds the honour of the leading world ranked player and while he is only at number 88 in the world it is the depth of the field around him that makes interesting reading.
Two former and one current US Amateur Champion teed it up on Thursday along with two former and the current number one world amateur, one major champion, nine PGA Tour winners, three Japan Open Champions, the runner up at the 2003 US Masters and a host of multiple winners on the Australasian Tour.
Danny Lee, Bubba Dickerson and Nick Flanagan have each won a US Amateur Championship. Danny Lee, Stephen Dartnall and Michael Sim were all world number one amateurs at various times.
Sir Bob Charles is of course the major winner. Charles, Jim McGovern, Andre Stolz, Craig Parry, Phil Tataurangi, Grant Waite, Ian Leggatt, Michael Clarke II and Len Mattiace have each won at least one event on the PGA Tour and Mattiace was also runner up at the US Masters.
Paul Sheehan, Craig Parry and David Smail have each won on the Japan Open.
It is not only the previous credentials of those in the field that are of interest, it is where many of these players will be in five years time that holds significant appeal for the golfing public, not only in the particular region of the event but in the golfing world generally.