Michael Hill NZ Open confirmed for 2009
BY iseekgolf.com | Web.com Tour | 2009 New Zealand Open | General | 28 Oct 2008
New Zealand Golf has announced today that the Michael Hill New Zealand Open has been confirmed for 2009.
The 91st Championship will be held at The Hills in Arrowtown near Queenstown on 12 to 15 March in a co-sanction agreement with the Australasian Tour and the Nationwide Tour.
The Championship will form part of three tournaments in Australasia to be co-sanctioned with the US PGA TOUR’s Nationwide Tour, which is billed as the “official proving ground of the PGA TOUR.”
It will complete the Australasian swing following the Moonah Classic near Melbourne on February 26 to March 1 and the HSBC NZPGA Championship at Clearwater, Christchurch on March 5 to 8. The New Zealand events will carry a prize purse of more than NZ$1 million (US$600,000).
The co-sanction arrangement with the Nationwide Tour is in place for two years with the opportunity of a further two years which was a key factor in New Zealand Golf’s decision to partner with the PGA TOUR. The Open has been co-sanctioned with the European Tour for the last three years.
New Zealand Golf said the move to the Nationwide Tour and event timing offer many benefits.
“This gives us real certainty for our flagship championship which means we can put plans in place going forward with real certainty,” said New Zealand Golf chief executive, Bill MacGowan.
“March is a great time of year and usually brings settled weather which is another advantage.
“We have a number of New Zealand and Australian players on the Nationwide Tour and success at the Open offers an exciting career pathway for a young player to realise his dreams.”
Mr MacGowan said that New Zealand Golf was only offered one further year with the European Tour co-sanction arrangement and no guarantees after that, which led to the discussions with other tours.
“These are challenging economic times. The Board of New Zealand Golf, the Open sub-committee, our promoter Tuohy & Associates and Michael Hill have worked exceptionally hard to find a way for the Open to move forward.
“It has been a long process but we remain committed to, and excited about the future of our championship which has been such an important part of the golfing heritage in this country for more than 100 years.”
The Nationwide Tour said they were delighted to add a national championship like the Michael Hill New Zealand Open to their schedule and retain the three tournament tour to Australasia.
“The Nationwide Tour has been coming to Australia and New Zealand since 2004 and they are popular stops for the Tour and our players,” said Bill Calfee, Nationwide Tour President.
“To add the New Zealand Open to our schedule is excellent and we are certainly looking forward to The Hills course and the wonderful Queenstown area which I’m sure will prove popular with our players.”
Ben Sellenger, Commissioner – Tour Division, PGA of Australia said:
“The extension of our partnership with the Nationwide Tour to encompass the Michael Hill New Zealand Open is a very exciting development for the Australasian Tour and further cements the great relationship and invaluable player pathway we have developed over the past seven years since co-sanctioning began.”
Naming sponsor and host Michael Hill said he was thrilled with the news and his team were now keen to build on the success of the first Michael Hill New Zealand Open, which attracted a record 35,000 spectators.
“The awareness is out there and it will undoubtedly be another fantastic event and we believe it will have an even greater atmosphere than last year’s tournament and attract bigger crowds.
“We are looking forward to welcoming people from all over the country and from overseas to The Hills and promise them that this will be more than just a golf tournament,” says Michael Hill. “Main Street which is the focal point of the tournament providing shopping, restaurants, bars and entertainment was a major draw card last year and will provide a complete experience, in addition to the golf, for all age groups, in particular families.”
Promoter Bob Tuohy of Tuohy Associates said:
“The three week run of events will provide extensive media appeal in New Zealand and internationally, together with an enhanced qualify of field as a result of a boost in prizemoney offered on the Downunder Swing,” he said.
Source – NZGA