Amateurs take on Campbell in NZ Open qualifying

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 New Zealand Open | Preview | 30 Dec 2002
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Many of the country’s top amateur golfers get their chance to take on the likes of world No 19 Michael Campbell in qualifying events for the Holden New Zealand Open.

The three New Year pre-qualifying tournaments throughout New Zealand have attracted 185 players vying for 30 places in the field for the final qualifying tournament.

The first qualifiers take place at Waitikiri Golf Club, Christchurch, Shandon GC in Wellington and Remuera GC in Auckland on Monday 6 January.

The top 30 players from those three tournaments will earn a start in the final qualifying tournament at The Grange, Auckland on Monday 13 January.

They will join approximately 45 players, mostly professionals, who miss direct entry to the Holden New Zealand Open or who are exempt to the final qualifying stage. The top 25 players from The Grange will start in the 86th Holden New Zealand Open at Auckland GC on January 16-19, joining 131 players given direct entry or exemption to the championship-proper.

Some of those players chasing a spot in the field include eight young Kiwis who gained their Australasian PGA Tour card in the final qualifying tournament last week.

The best of the New Zealanders, Palmerston North’s Tim Wilkinson, is assured of a start based on his selection for New Zealand at the Eisenhower Trophy world amateur teams championship in Malaysia in October. Wilkinson, who went on to miss his professional card in Europe, finished 11th overall after six round qualifying in Melbourne.

The other Kiwis to gain their cards included Elliott Boult, Eddie Burgess, Marcus Wheelhouse, Alastair Sidford, Glyn Delaney, Martin Pettigrew and Ben Gaille. Their finishing position determines the priority order for an automatic place in the Holden New Zealand Open field, with Boult, Burgess and possibly Wheelhouse favoured to gain a start. The remainder would need to seek one of the 25 final places on offer in the final qualifier at The Grange on January 13.

The Auckland pre-qualifier has drawn a strong field of 125 players fighting for 20 spots, with 38 in Wellington chasing seven places and 22 in Christchurch seeking the final three spots.

The Auckland draw includes former national amateur champion Chris Johns and three members of this year’s winning Tower Interprovincial team from Bay of Plenty, George Kinghorn, Jae An and Terry Hong. Kinghorn missed his professional card in Australia while An, then 13, became the youngest player in history to qualify for an Open championship at Paraparaumu in January.

There are a number of Tower Interprovincial representatives, mostly from North Harbour and Auckland, and some club professionals including American Louis De Kerillis, from Kauri Cliffs.

There are also a number of leading sports stars from other codes attempting to qualify including former Black Cap Alex Tait (Northland), New Zealand hockey representative Arthur Parkin and former Auckland rugby representative Richard Fry. There will be interest in the appearance of Dean Sipson, who last week regained his amateur status after a decade as a professional, and also in the efforts of Television One news reader Peter Williams seeking a spot in the NZ Open field.

Source – NZGA

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