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The road to the New Zealand Open Championship started yesterday for around 190 golfers across New Zealand at four iconic venues that have all hosted major New Zealand Golf tournaments.
A total of 25 golfers advanced to the Final Stage of the Qualifying for the New Zealand Open Championship in Queenstown.
The tournament, a tier one event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, will be hosted at The Hills and Millbrook Resort from February 27 to March 2 and with a purse of $NZ 900,000 is expected to be the biggest tournament staged in New Zealand for many years.
Four pre-qualifying events were held across New Zealand yesterday at the Royal Auckland Golf Club, Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, Christchurch Golf Club and Chisholm Park.
Twelve golfers from Royal Auckland advanced with Bay of Plenty golfer Bailey Smith, who recently won a junior title in Australia, the winner of the event with a one-under par 71 in the hard and fast conditions.
Waikato rep Denzel Ieremia and Bay of Plenty rep Charlie Hillier, who recently won the North Island Under 19 Championship, were also among the qualifiers from Middlemore.
Four players finished on four-over par 76 and Joshua Leitch birdied the first playoff hole to secure the 12th and final place from Royal Auckland.
Wellington No.1 Marc Jennings, who was superb for his province in the Toro NZ Men’s Interprovincial at North Shore Golf Club, won the event at Paraparaumu Beach when he carded a two-under par 70.
Manawatu reps Hayden Ring and Lachie McDonald, who were standouts in their province’s historic winning of the Toro title in December, also advanced with rounds of 73 and 74 respectively at the 12-time host of the NZ Open.
At the Christchurch Golf Club, seven golfers advanced to the final qualifiers in the warm and windy conditions.
Former New Zealand rep Jordan Bakermans won the event on his home course when he carded a two-under par 70.
He was joined by six others with four golfers - Jun Hyeong Seok (South Korea), Carl Brooking (P), Jordan Green (Ashburton), Byung Chae Ryu (South Korea) - sneaking in by one shot when they finished on even par 72.
Meanwhile at the Chisholm Park Golf Club in Dunedin three players - Jeremy Hall (67), Michael Smith (69) and Brendan Hodgson (69) – advanced to final qualifying.
The final stage of qualifying will be held at the Omaha Beach Golf Club and Cromwell Golf Club on Monday February 24 and Tuesday February 25 respectively.
A total of 10 spaces in the final New Zealand Open field will be played for at the final qualifying tournaments.
Golfers to qualify through to final stage of qualifying for the NZ Open:
Royal Auckland (Par 72):
71 Bailey Smith
72 Jong Yup Kim, Vikrant Chandra
73 Sean Tan, Johnny Tynan, Denzel Ieremia, Kyle Wong
74 Nicolai Walynetz
75 Lee Neumann, Daniel Graham, Charlie Hillier
76 Joshua Leitch* (*Leitch birdied the first playoff hole to take the final and 12th place)
Paraparaumu Beach (Par 72):
70 Marc Jennings
73 Hayden Ring
74 Lachie McDonald
Christchurch Golf Club (Par 72):
70 Jordan Bakermans (Christchurch)
71 Hayden Beard (Mt Maunganui), JJ Love (Christchurch)
72 Jun Hyeong Seok (South Korea), Carl Brooking (P), Jordan Green (Ashburton), Byung Chae Ryu (South Korea)
Chisholm Park (Par 72):
67 Jeremy Hall
69 Michael Smith, Brendan Hodgson
NZ Open Final Qualifying (Two Events):
When: Monday February 23, 2014
Where: Omaha Beach Golf Club, Northland
When: Tuesday February 24. 2014
Where: Cromwell Golf Club, Central Otago