Celebrity dancer Cris Judd will live his former dream
when he tees off at the New Zealand Open golf tournament in the
Wakatipu next year.
Judd - who has worked with music royalty such as ex-wife
Jennifer Lopez, the late Michael Jackson and Celine Dion - is
the latest big name to sign for the NZ Open pro-am at
Arrowtown's The Hills and Millbrook courses, starting on
His invitation came after a round with tournament chairman
John Hart and former All Black Andy Haden.
Haden manages Rachel Hunter, a co-judge with Judd on
entertainment contest New Zealand's Got Talent.
Judd (44), of the United States, is relishing the invitation
- he has never been to Queenstown but nearly had a golf
Taught from age 8 while growing up in the Philippines, Judd
started playing junior tournament golf at 10. He placed third
in his first outing and later captained his high school team
While starting his dancing career, he also played on US
mini-tours and in California as an amateur.
''I was making that push forward to see if I could try to
swing it and go pro.
''But unfortunately I got asked to go on a different tour, so
I ended up going on tour with Michael Jackson.''
Judd was a lead dancer on the ''King of Pop's'' Dangerous and
HIStory world tours and, after his death, performed a dance
tribute to him at the MTV Video Music Awards along with
Jackson's sister, singer Janet Jackson.
During his entertainment career, Judd has played golf
He shot 76 at his first tournament at California's Pebble
Beach course in 2009.
''When I'm out on the course, especially when I'm at a
tournament, I always like to think, 'this is where I should
''I always in the back of my head have that dream to still be
a professional,'' he said.
Judd says his iron play, from the tee to the green, is
probably his major strength.
''[But] my putting is probably the weakest link,'' he says,
admitting he still gets butterflies on the first tee.
By Philip Chandler.