Young golf stars to vie for Kiwi Challenge

Thursday 10 September 2009, 2:24PM
By Tourism New Zealand


Four of the world’s best young golfers will soon be chasing US$2 million in prizes in the Kiwi Challenge, at Cape Kidnappers golf resort in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Defending champion Hunter Mahan and runner-up Anthony Kim will be joined by 20-somethings Sean O’Hair and Camilo Villegas for the 36-hole stroke play event from 11 - 12 November.

Launched in 2008, the Kiwi Challenge is an annual made-for-television event sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
Apart from a US$1 million cheque, the winner could also go home wearing the label of "best golfer under age 30".

Cape Kidnappers golf resort
The four golfers will contest the title in an iconic New Zealand setting - a working sheep farm on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, on the North Island’s eastern coast.

The challenging course, designed by architect Tom Doak, opened in 2004. It is ranked 36th best golf course in the world by Golf Magazine, and was rated world’s best by the Daily Telegraph (UK) in 2008.

The resort also includes the world-renowned luxury lodge, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.
Favourite places

2008 winner Hunter Mahan says he "can’t wait to go back to New Zealand" and play in the Kiwi Challenge.
"I played some of my best golf ever on the final holes to win last year’s event, so I’d sure call it one of my favourite places for a few reasons. The course is fantastic and the views are incredible; like nothing I’ve ever seen before," Mahan said.

Runner-up Anthony Kim, who says he’s looking forward to having a chance "to come out top" this time round, describes the golf course as "just spectacular".

Winning golfers
New York financier and Cape Kidnappers owner Julian Robertson says the 2009 line-up is "probably the best group of players under age 30 ever to play in a tournament of this type."

Between them, the young golfers already have eight PGA Tour wins, more than 80 top-10 finishes and nearly $40 million in career winnings.

Hunter Mahan, 27, is 26th in world rankings, and 14th on the 2009 PGA Tour money list.
Anthony Kim, 24, was a two-time winner in 2008, and is currently ranked 18th in the world.
Camilo Villegas, 27, is the top-ranked player in the field. He had two wins in 2008, and is 16th in world rankings.

Sean O’Hair, 27, is ranked 20th, and is eighth in earnings for 2009.