Cricket greats to play golf tour­na­ment

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - By GRANT BRYANT

Three of the great­est cricket cap­tains in test his­tory have been con­firmed as celebrity golfers for the New Zealand Open Cham­pi­onship in Ar­row­town next Fe­bru­ary. Aus­tralian le­gends Ricky Ponting and Al­lan Bor­der, and ar­guably New Zealand’s finest cap­tain Stephen Flem­ing, are among the sport stars to con­firm their place in the big­gest tour­na­ment staged in New Zealand for many years. Ponting was ex­cited to about his de­but in the event that will take place at Sir Michael Hill’s The Hills course and neigh­bour­ing Mill­brook. ‘‘I have al­ways loved com­ing to New Zealand through­out my crick­et­ing ca­reer and I haven’t spent any time in Queen­stown so to play in an event like this will be a great ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ he said. ‘‘New Zealand is such a great coun­try to tour – it has a life­style a lot like my home in Tas­ma­nia. The com­pe­ti­tion was al­ways great on the cricket field but the food, wine and scenery are just amaz­ing, the peo­ple are re­ally friendly and the golf cour­ses over there are sec­ond to none. ‘‘I am go­ing to come over a few days early with the wife to en­joy Queen­stown. I can’t wait.’’ Ponting, who re­tired in 2012, is ob­sessed with golf, sports a nat­u­ral swing and has notched up a record that sug­gests he could hold his own amongst pro­fes­sion­als. Ponting has beaten his good friend, three-time PGA Tour win­ner Aaron Bad­de­ley, over 18 holes, he plays off an im­pres­sive +1 hand­i­cap and boasts a ca­reer-low round of 66. Alan Bor­der cap­tained Aus­tralia and holds the world record for the num­ber of con­sec­u­tive test ap­pear­ances of 153 and for the num­ber of tests as cap­tain. He amassed 11,174 test runs which was a world record un­til it was sur­passed in 2005. Stephen Flem­ing, who plays right-handed off a 9 hand­i­cap, of­ten faced Ponting and can­not wait to re­sume their rivalry. The for­mer skip­per, who played 111 tests at an av­er­age of 40, said he was count­ing down the days to make his de­but in the event.

Ricky Ponting, left Al­lan Bor­der in 1990 and Stephen Flem­ing.

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