Smail confirms New Zealand Open start

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 New Zealand Open | Preview | 02 Dec 2002
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Victorious golfer David Smail, who claimed his second Tour win of the year in Japan today, has confirmed his start in next month’s Holden New Zealand Open.

Smail, who took out the rain-affected Casio World Open in Kagosima, has one more tournament to complete his season in Japan before returning to his home near Hamilton.

The 2001 New Zealand Open champion informed New Zealand Golf that he will compete in the 86th Holden New Zealand Open at the Auckland Golf Club (Middlemore) in Manukau City from January 16-19.

His win is likely to catapult the Kiwi into the top 100 when the world rankings are confirmed tomorrow, joining fellow New Zealanders Michael Campbell, Phillip Tataurangi and Craig Perks. Three of the quartet have confirmed they will play at Middlemore, while Perks is still looking at his early season commitments to the US PGA Tour.

“It’s very exciting to think that we may have four New Zealanders in the top 100 in the world,” Holden New Zealand Open tournament director Phil Aickin said.

“And Middlemore will offer an excellent opportunity to see them in action. Three of them will definitely be playing and we are still talking with Craig Perks.

“The Open clashes with the US Tour events in Hawaii and the US-based Kiwi golfers often have obligations there or newcomers on the Tour like Steven Alker need to make a fast start, especially in Hawaii where the field is traditionally softer.”

Aickin heads to the Australian Masters in Victoria this week to talk to a number of New Zealand and Australian players.

“We are still talking with a number of players and we will have an excellent field for sure.

“It’s important for New Zealanders to realise just how good our players are on the world scene, and players like David Smail are absolutely world class.”

Smail has jumped to sixth on the Japan Golf Tour standings with NZ$1.3 million in earnings this year. He followed his win in the Japan Open in October with a brilliant eight-under par 64 in the final round of the Casio World Open, shortened to 54 holes after the third round was washed out.

The New Zealander, four shots behind second round leader Brendan Jones, finished with a 16-under par total of 200 for the 54-holes, two shots clear of the Australian. He collected approx. NZ$350,000 for the victory, reduced by 25 percent after one round was washed out.

Smail has enjoyed an outstanding season with two wins, third in the Tournament Players Championship, third in the Juken Sangyo Open, fifth in the PGA matchplay and sixth in the Tsuruya Open.

Fellow countryman Richard Lee finished in a tie for 15th at five-under par place in the Casio World Open. Lee, who has also confirmed his entry in the Holden New Zealand Open, is currently 73rd on the rankings with approximately NZ$190,000 in prizemoney.

Source – NZGA

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