Farewell to the 102nd New Zealand Golf Open
The sun has set on the 102nd New Zealand Open with what many would consider an unlikely champion.
Less than a year after almost giving up on the game after a tough Japan Tour, Australian Brendan Jones timed his run perfectly to claim his first win in four years. Considering that at 48 he was one of the oldest players in the field, and he nearly did not make it to the weekend with starting rounds of 69 and 69, the victory in Queenstown was a truly emotional one.
Jones, the 9th Aussie winner in the past 10 NZ tournaments, is a true ambassador for Queenstown and the New Zealand Open in Japan, where he is considered the most successful foreigner to have played on the Japanese tour.
In an emotional speech he stated “This is just incredible, I’ve been supporting this event for many, many years, and I’ve said to myself as long as my bum points to the ground I’ll never win it,”
Fellow Aussie Shae Wools-Cobb, who was the leader until the 54th hole, had a day to forget after he accidentally struck two golf balls at the same time. It was good news for Wools-Cobb after officials declared his ball was the one who landed on the green, and not the one that only travelled three yards. This difficult day left him tied for 26th, eight shots off the pace.
Kazuma Kobori, a 21 year old from Rangiora, who finished in a sixth at 14-under also won the Bledisloe Cup as the best finishing amateur.
Australian professional Andrew Evans and New Zealand amateur partner Barry Wither won the New Zealand pro-am championship at 38-under, one shot clear of fellow Aussie and New Zealand pairing Nick Flanagan and Phil Ellison.
The New Zealand Open is back at Millbrook in 2024 from February 29 to March 3.
-18 Brendan Jones (Aus)
-15 John Lyras (Aus), Ben Campbell (NZ), Jaewoong Eom (Kor), Tomoyo Ikemura (Jap)
-14 Tom Power Horan (Aus), Michael Hendry (NZ), Kazuma Kobori (NZ), Gunn Charoenkul (Thai), Rhein Gibson (Aus), Christopher Wood (Aus)
-13 Harry Hillier (NZ), Daniel Hillier (NZ), Elvis Smylie (Aus), Scott Hend (Aus), Terumichi Kakazu (Jap)