NZ OPEN

THE HIS­TORY OF GOLF IN NEW ZEALAND DATES BACK TO 1871 BUT IT WAS NOT UN­TIL 1893 THAT AN AN­NUAL NA­TIONAL CHAM­PI­ONSHIP WAS ES­TAB­LISHED, WITH THE FIRST NEW ZEALAND OPEN CHAM­PI­ONSHIP STAGED IN 1907, WITH 130 PLAY­ERS COM­PET­ING AT NAPIER GOLF CLUB AT WAIOHIKI I

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS IAN HEPENSTALL

100 years of the NZ Open.

Nine­teen-year-old J A Cle­ments, the first New Zealand born pro­fes­sional, who be­came prom­i­nent in the de­vel­op­ment of the game at that time, won the 1908 New Zealand Open Cham­pi­onship at Bal­macewen. He went on to win the fol­low­ing year but was well beaten Dun­can in Christchurch 1910, who re­peated the ef­fort in 1911 in Wan­ganui.

Cle­ments re­turned to his win­ning ways in 1912 at Heretaunga be­fore giv­ing way to E S Dou­glas who tri­umphed at Bal­macewen in 1913 and at Mid­dle­more in 1914 where he held off both Dun­can and Cle­ments in the fi­nal cham­pi­onship be­fore war in­ter­vened.

Dou­glas picked up where he left off to win the first post-war Open at Waiohiki in 1919.

Aus­tralian pro­fes­sional J H Kirk­wood be­came the first over­seas player to win the cham­pi­onship at St An­drews (Hamil­ton) in 1920, fin­ish­ing clear of New Zealand’s Sloan Mor­peth.

Dou­glas bounced back for his sixth and fi­nal Open ti­tle in Christchurch the fol­low­ing year.

Pro­fes­sional A Brooks claimed the 1922 Open at Hokowhitu and 1923 in Wan­ganui be­fore giv­ing way to a new cham­pion, Ernie Morse who held off in re­mark­able Dun­can at Mid­dle­more in 1924.

E M MacFar­lane be­came only the sec­ond am­a­teur Open cham­pion when he won at Shirley in 1925 and three years later the re­mark­able Sloan Mor­peth fought off snow and the pro­fes­sion­als to win at Bal­macewen.

The 1930 Open Cham­pi­onship at Hokowhitu marked the third of an even­tual six ti­tles by A J Shaw and the first of four oc­ca­sions he won the Jel­li­coe Cup for his sec­ond round 68. Shaw's open­ing 36-hole to­tal of 147 was the foun­da­tion for his win­ning score of 284, only once bet­tered in the next 20 years.

Bob Glad­ing cel­e­brated the first Open af­ter the war in 1946 with vic­tory as an am­a­teur fol­low­ing an 18-hole play­off at Hokowhitu. He re­peated the feat the fol­low­ing year.

James Gal­loway took out the 1949 ti­tle at Bridge Pa break­ing Shaw's record with 283, a to­tal that equalled the Aus­tralian Open record held by Gene Sarazen and Keith Pix.

The new decade brought with it a new era when out­stand­ing Aus­tralian pro­fes­sional Peter Thomson set a new stan­dard win­ning by nine shots at Christchurch.

This sparked more than two decades of mem­o­rable New Zealand Open cham­pi­onships dom­i­nated by Thomson, fel­low Aus­tralians Kel Na­gle and Bruce Devlin and our own Bob Charles - a quar­tet who broke through to the top of sport on the world scene.

Thomson and Na­gle went on to win seven New Zealand Open cham­pi­onships each, the last in 1969. Charles won his first Open in 1954 while an am­a­teur, fight­ing off Bruce Cramp­ton and Thomson among other top-rank­ing pro­fes­sion­als. He had to wait un­til 1966 to add his sec­ond, then as a pro­fes­sional, and added two fur­ther cham­pi­onships in 1970 and 1973.

Na­gle was one of the most pop­u­lar of vis­i­tors, with his 1958 ti­tle at Para­pa­raumu par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable, when he fought off chal­lenges from Thomson, the great Gary Player and Aus­tralian wiz­ard Nor­man Von Nida.

New Zealan­ders won twice in the 70s - Charles in 1973 and the out­stand­ing vic­tory by Si­mon Owen in 1976. They were the last oc­ca­sions that Ki­wis would have their name on the tro­phy for more than a decade, as young Amer­i­cans on the rise in the game, used the New Zealand cir­cuit as a step­ping stone in their ca­reers. Amer­i­can win­ners in the 70s and 80s in­cluded Bob Gilder in 1974, (af­ter a play­off with Charles and Jack New­ton at Shirley); Bob By­man in 1977; Buddy Allin in 1980; and back-to­back ti­tles to Corey Pavin in 1984 (Para­pa­raumu) and 1985 (Rus­s­ley).

In be­tween times, a raft of tal­ented Aus­tralians got their hands on the tro­phy. They in­cluded Billy Dunk (72, 75), Bob Shearer (78, 81), the re­splen­dent Ste­wart Ginn (78), Terry Gale (82), Ian Baker-Finch (83), Rodger Davis (86, 91) and Ian Stan­ley (88), Peter Fowler (93), Craig Jones (94), Lu­cas Par­sons and O'Mal­ley (both in 1995 when a change of dates re­sulted in two Open cham­pi­onships in the same year).

Greg Turner broke a 13-year drought since a Kiwi had tri­umphed in their own cham­pi­onship, win­ning the Open at Para­pa­raumu in 1989. The links course on the Kapiti Coast has proved a happy hunt­ing ground for New Zealan­ders in the 90s with Grant Waite win­ning there in 1992 and Michael Long in 1996 be­fore Turner added his sec­ond at Mid­dle­more in 1997 by seven shots.

Matthew Lane at For­mosa ex­tended the win­ning New Zealand run in 1998 when the young Welling­to­nian shot 64 in the fi­nal round to sweep past the field. The Kiwi run con­tin­ued with Michael Camp­bell’s late charge to beat Craig Perks at Para­pa­raumu Beach in 2000.

An­other New Zealan­der, David Smail picked up his first Tour vic­tory at The Grange in 2001, be­fore Aussie Craig Parry pipped Camp­bell and Steve Alker at Para­pa­raumu in 2002 – the year of the Tiger – when the tour­na­ment at­tracted Tiger Woods while he was in the prime as world num­ber one, and in his first tour­na­ment played out­side of USA since the 911 tragedy.

2003 proved a break­through vic­tory for Dunedin-based Ma­hal Pearce, a for­mer lead­ing Am­a­teur, who had strug­gled to make a name for him­self un­til his very con­sis­tent per­for­mance at Mid­dle­more, even al­low­ing the lux­ury of dou­ble-bo­gey on the fi­nal hole to win by two shots.

An­other young Kiwi al­most made it the per­fect send-off for Sir Bob Charles in his fi­nal New Zealand Open 50 years af­ter his first win, when Brad Heaven at­tempted to em­u­late Sir Bob’s feat of win­ning the event as an am­a­teur in 2004 at The Grange. He was pipped by one shot from wily Aus­tralian Terry Price.

His­tory was made in 2005 when the New Zealand Open was co­sanc­tioned with the Euro­pean Tour and Aus­tralasian PGA Tour, with Swe­den’s Ni­clas Fasth claim­ing the tro­phy and the lion’s share of the record NZ$1.5 mil­lion on the sec­ond play­off hole with Eng­land’s Miles Tun­ni­cliff.

Gulf Har­bour Coun­try Club on Auck­land’s Whanga­paraoa Penin­sula hosted the event again in 2006 when Aus­tralian Nathan Green took ad­van­tage of fine con­di­tions early on the fi­nal day to jump from six shots back to claim the ti­tle.

In 2007 the event moved to Queen­stown for the first time – and has since be­come the home of the Open, with the 100th New Zealand Open in 2019 also the 10th time he has been hosted in the tourist mecca.

Af­ter three years co-sanc­tioned with the Euro­pean Tour, the Open moved dates again to early in the year, skip­ping 2008 to move to a new co-sanc­tion­ing ar­range­ment with the then Na­tion­wide Tour, the de­vel­op­ment tour of the USPGA.

It was also the first time it had been played at the pri­vate course of The Hills, owned by colour­ful jew­elry mag­nate, Sir Michael Hills. Amer­i­can Alex Prugh won in 2009 to move on to the lu­cra­tive PGA Tour, and com­pa­triot Bobby Gates was suc­cess­ful in 2010.

Christchurch’s Clear­wa­ter Re­sort hosted the 2011 event where Aus­tralian Brad Kennedy pre­vailed on the first ex­tra hole of a three­way play­off.

Aus­tralian Jake Hig­gin­bot­tom be­came the first am­a­teur since Bob Charles 56 years ear­lier to claim the Bledis­loe Cup at Clear­wa­ter in 2012 to com­plete the con­tract with the USPGA.

There was no event in 2013 as it changed dates again back to early in the year, with a re­turn to Queen­stown and a bold new ini­tia­tive to move to a pro-am for­mat based on suc­cess­ful events like the Dun­hill Links on the Euro­pean Tour and the AT&T on the USPGA. This meant two cour­ses were re­quired to han­dle the ad­di­tional num­bers, run at The Hills and its neigh­bour Mill­brook Re­sort, and won by Aus­tralian Dim­itrios Pa­padatos.

This new for­mat con­tin­ued to grow in pop­u­lar­ity with am­a­teurs, while the pro­fes­sion­als also fell in love with the more re­laxed for­mat, su­perb cour­ses and an an­nual visit to the stun­ning sur­rounds of Queen­stown.

Aus­tralian Jor­dan Zu­nic pre­vailed in 2015, and com­pa­triot Matthew Grif­fin in 2016 ahead of Japan’s Hideto Tani­hara, one of a num­ber of high-rank­ing Asian play­ers at­tracted to the tour­na­ment with or­gan­is­ers strik­ing re­la­tion­ships with both the Asian and Japan Tours.

Auck­land’s Michael Hendry broke a 13-year gap since a Kiwi won the Bledis­loe Cup with his vic­tory on the first ex­tra hole at Mill­brook Re­sort in 2017, in front of a packed gallery around the scenic, wa­tered 18th hole.

Aus­tralia’s Daniel Nis­bet took ad­van­tage of be­nign con­di­tions to fire a 27-un­der par to not only win but also break Kel Na­gle’s tour­na­ment low score by one shot. It also marked an of­fi­cial co-sanc­tion ar­range­ment with the Asian Tour as well as a for­mal part­ner­ship with the Japan Golf Tour, while the suc­cess of the unique for­mat re­sulted in prize­money reach­ing NZ$1.25 mil­lion to set-up an ideal venue and in­fra­struc­ture to cel­e­brate the 100th New Zealand Open in 2019.

(T-B) Para­pa­raumu Beach Golf Club sec­ond hole. Michael Camp­bell sinks an ea­gle putt on the sec­ond play off hole to beat Craig Perks also of New Zealand in the New Zealand Open at the Para­pa­raumu Golf Club, Welling­ton, New Zealand. Credit: Nick Wil­son ALLSPORT

Michael Hendry cel­e­brates his win dur­ing day four of the New Zealand Open at Mill­brook Re­sort on March 12, 2017 in Queen­stown, New Zealand.

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