Michael Glading, NZ Open Tournament Director, Inc. gives some thoughts on golf today.
Of course, nothing changes, if an opportunity presents itself, a budding young player must be good enough to take that opportunity and maximise it; again, Ryan is a great example of this, when initially given few starts on the European Challenge Tour, he earnt enough money to get a full playing card the following year. It then took him two years to get on the main European Tour, but now that he is there, what an impact he has made!
Too often these days I hear young pros dreaming of only one thing - getting in to the web.com Tour, as a pathway to the PGA Tour. I have no issue with those that are good enough (and confident enough) to take that route – Nick Voke being a prime example.
But all players develop at a different pace, and having to grind out at the bottom rung of the web. com Tour, when other options exists, may well be a far better option for budding young Kiwi professionals.
So much of the game is confidence, and missing cuts and earning no money is the fastest way to lose that confidence; we all know that golf is a game of confidence. I think it’s great to see players like Harry Bateman try and work his way up Japan’s secondary ‘Abema Tour’, and the likes of Luke Toomey, Fraser Wilkin, Campbell Rawson, Mat Perry etc. working their way through the difficulties of playing in China.
Ben Campbell is now doing so well on the Asian Tour (ranked #36 at the time of writing), and with a few good results at the back end of 2018 could well find himself getting starts in events that are co-sanctioned with the European tour. Win one of those (which he is clearly good enough to do), and he immediately joins the ‘big league’ with full European Tour playing rights.
Australian Cameron Smith, now ranked #32 in the world, did exactly this. When he turned pro he did incredibly well on the Asian tour, which earnt him the right to play in the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic event in Malaysia. A 5th place finish there won him the right to play in more PGA Tour events, and from there, he won his full PGA Tour playing rights – the rest is history!
Which brings me to the 100th New Zealand Open, to be held in beautiful Queenstown next March. Our move to co-sanction with both the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, really does open the way for another young kiwi to launch himself onto the world stage, if he can win, or earn enough money that week to get a good ranking on the Asian Tour.
The Asian Tour now has 33 events, a number of which are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour, the European Tour and/or the Japan Tour. Whilst providing a very healthy level of competition on the tour itself, it also creates enormous opportunities for Pros to win their way onto one of the other large tours as well.
Creating player pathways is so important, and there is no doubt that the growth of the New Zealand Open in recent years has opened a door that hopefully a number of young up and coming Kiwi professionals will march through with gusto!
Ben Campbell tees off during the Fiji International Golf Tournament on August 3, 2018 in Natadola, Fiji.