At The Hills, near Arrowtown, on Monday, preparing for the
New Zealand PGA Championship were (from left) Sir Bob
Charles, Hale Irwin and Sir Michael Hill. Photo by Olivia
Organisers of the 2013 NZ PGA Championship being held at
The Hills this week say government support and investment are
crucial to the future of the tournament.
Prime Minister John Key has signed up to play at The Hills
over the weekend, but director John Hart says the weekend
will be about proving the tournament's worth and securing
future financial support.
Mr Hart said the tournament would be judged not only on the
golf, but its ability to draw a crowd, build overseas
business-to-business relationships, build Queenstown tourism
and build golf tourism in New Zealand.
''We have taken it to another level in terms of creating an
event. Crowd support is crucial to the future of the
Additional attractions this year include a concert on
Saturday, featuring young New Zealand talent Jamie McDell,
and a two-day business-oriented round at Millbrook over the
Mr Hart said the tournament was also about impressing
potential business investors and the Government.
His aim was to grow the tournament ''dramatically'' over the
next few years and hold a two-course tournament at The Hills
and Millbrook where organisers could invite more amateurs to
pay and play.
''That's absolutely crucial.
''We have about 18 overseas business people from Japan, Korea
and Australasia, all looking at this tournament.''
The talent pool of both celebrities and professional golf for
this year's tournament had surpassed last year's and although
there were no Hollywood big names, Mr Hart was satisfied with
the entry list.
''I think we have a better field of celebrities this year.
The extra time we have had is reflected in the nature of the
stars we've got.''
The field of golfing professionals boasts 11 of the top
200-ranked players in the world, compared with this year's
New Zealand Open, which had two of the top 200.
Lining up this week will be cricketing names in England's Sir
Ian Botham and South Africa's Barry Richards, New Zealand
golfing great Sir Bob Charles, Olympic rower Mahe Drysdale,
former Wallabies Nick Farr-Jones and George Gregan, former
All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson, Mr Key and the
tournament's biggest attraction Lydia Ko.
''Having people like the Prime Minister and Lydia Ko playing
as celebrities is huge. Lydia is New Zealand's most
outstanding young talent and it is great she can come here
after having weeks of serious golf and enjoy it.
''She is the biggest attraction in New Zealand golf and she
is simply the biggest attraction we can get right now.''
Mr Hart said there was no need to convince Ko to play in the
tournament for the second time. She signed up as soon as she
left the 18th hole last year.
''She accepted immediately.
''The PM's excited about playing.''