New Zealand Open half full not half empty

BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 New Zealand Open | Preview | 12 Dec 2002
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Amidst all the debate and discussion as to who is playing or not playing next month’s New Zealand Open it appears one very important point has been missed.

When Michael Campbell takes his place in the field on Thursday January 16th he will be the highest world ranked player to line up in an Australasian PGA Tour event thus far this summer.

Currently Campbell is 19th in the rankings two spots ahead of the next highest ranked player to play here this summer namely, Robert Allenby (21st). Rich Beem, the PGA Champion who finished runner up at the Australian Open to Steve Allan, is currently 25th in the world.

With all the discussion about the non-appearance of the likes of Craig Perks, Steve Alker, Greg Turner and Craig Parry it should be remembered that Campbell has, without any fuss, supported his national open in recent years and performed well when he has. In 2000 he won in a playoff over Craig Perks, a year later he very nearly produced the impossible coming from the cut line on Saturday morning to just fail to catch David Smail and early this year was runner up, with Steve Alker and Steven Leaney, to Craig Parry.

Campbell’s form in recent weeks has continued to be good if not spectacular. He was a semi finalist at the Cisco Match Play and 9th at the American Express event in Ireland. He played in Sun City where he finished last in the twelve-man field and just last week was 12th of 16 at the Target World Challenge. That he is invited to such events confirms his status in world golf but interestingly enough it appears little is being made of his participation in Auckland.

If the New Zealand Open organisers were able to secure another player of similar world ranking, say a Justin Leonard or Rocco Mediate, who are either side of Campbell in the rankings, you could book it that there would be much song and dance. From where I am sitting, however, there seems to be more focus on the half empty rather than half full approach.

Just on the issue of last year’s winner, Craig Parry there does appear to be a bit of license being used as to the amount of money Parry sought in order to appear at Middlemore. It is my understanding that the figure was $US15,000 which by my calculation equates to $NZ30,000 and not the $NZ70,000 that is being bandied about.

With Campbell, Tataurangi, Smail, Scahill, Nobilo (if his back stands up to it), Eddie Lee, Richard Lee, Gareth Padisson and a host of fine Australian players, albeit as yet not those at the top level, the 2003 New Zealand Open will be a fine contest once again.

While Campbell’s continued participation at the New Zealand Open is in part, a result of his promise to one of his greatest supporters in Grant Clements, his presence should not only be promoted, but more importantly, not taken for granted.

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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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