The Open Championship at The Hills in Arrowtown will again be a co-sanctioned event between the Australasian and Nationwide Tours, offering $US600,000 in prizemoney. It will form part of the Nationwide's downunder swing to be followed by the Moonah Classic near Melbourne on February 4 to 7.
The move back to a traditional January date for the New Zealand Open has pleased New Zealand Golf who believe the timing of the tournament at the end of the summer holidays will prove a boon for their flagship professional tournament.
This year's championship was staged in mid-March with players and fans faced with freezing conditions in the early stages of the tournament at Arrowtown.
"Over many years we have found that January has always proved the most popular with golf fans and the sporting public," said New Zealand Golf CEO, Bill MacGowan.
"It is still in the school holiday period which will allow families to come and watch some of the best golfers in the world in action, and especially a chance for young players, who might aspire to be the next Danny Lee or David Smail, to come along and watch."
Mr MacGowan said the co-sanction arrangement with the Nationwide Tour was a success this year.
"It attracted some outstanding golfers, some of whom have been winners on the PGA Tour while others will no doubt go on to become tomorrow's stars. And it offers opportunities for our young golfing talent to potentially break on to the Nationwide Tour and on to the PGA Tour."
New Zealand Golf officials will begin discussions with the course superintendant at The Hills on preparation for the earlier tournament date.
New Zealand Open promoter Bob Tuohy of Tuohy Associates said the earlier date will offer more plusses.
"It's a great chance for fans to watch this country's premier golf championship and a January date means we will certainly attract more spectators and enhance our volunteer base," Mr Tuohy said.
"New Zealand's and Australia's best players will for the first time in many years have the opportunity to compete before joining other Tours offshore.
"Corporate support for the 2010 Michael Hill New Zealand Open was very encouraging even in the uncertain current economic times."
Tickets go on sale from August 31 via TicketDirect.
Source - NZGA