Grant Waite to return home for New Zealand Open

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 New Zealand Open | Preview | 01 Jan 2003
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US-based golfer Grant Waite plans to take part in this month’s 86th Holden New Zealand Open in Auckland. Waite informed organisers last week that he wants to return home to compete at the Auckland Golf Club from 16-19 January.

His appearance makes it the strongest field of New Zealand players since the New Zealand Open was last played at Middlemore in 1997, according to tournament director Phil Aickin.

Waite’s entry is with the proviso that he does not get a late call-up to the US PGA Tour event in Hawaii on the same week. The Florida-based Kiwi missed out on his Tour card after finishing 152nd on the moneylist this year, his lowest finish for eight years.

He missed out on a possible sponsor’s invite to the Hawaiian Tour event, and he would need a spate of withdrawals to be elevated to a start based on his ranking position.

Aickin said Waite’s entry means that 17 of New Zealand’s top 20 ranked professionals will play at Middlemore. Waite will join Frank Nobilo, Sir Bob Charles, Michael Campbell, Phil Tataurangi, David Smail and Michael Long as confirmed starters.

“Waite, Nobilo, Tataurangi and Long all missed the Open this year, so to have them home is really great.”

European Open champion Campbell, ranked 19th in the world, is the top ranked player to compete in Australasian this summer. Tataurangi picked up his first PGA Tour victory in the United States this year, while Smail won twice on the Japan Tour, including the Japan Open.

“Add to this some very exciting young players, and we will have a very talented field.

“The New Zealand Open is a breeding ground for some outstanding young players who have gone on to great things. This year there’s the likes of Gareth Paddison, the rookie of the year, Eddie Lee, Tim Wilkinson and a couple of exciting Australians Scott Gardiner and Marcus Fraser who are young players with big futures.”

Waite, 38, finished the year with earnings of $645,000 but finished outside of the top 150 for the first time since 1994, after two very strong years. Waite, who won the Kemper Open in 1993, had his best finish when he tied for sixth at the Canadian Open.

The 1992 New Zealand Open champion has career earnings in excess of $8 million.

Aickin expects to finalise entries from Australia soon, and although all of the 16 Australian players with US Tour cards are expected to play in Hawaii, there are a number of topline players who have expressed interest in playing at Middlemore.

Source – Holden New Zealand Open

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