Concert a PGA bonus

New Zealand  singer-songwriter   Jamie McDell at The Hills on Monday night. The young artist will...
New Zealand singer-songwriter Jamie McDell at The Hills on Monday night. The young artist will release her debut album this Friday and perform at the New Zealand PGA Championship concert in March. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
How to get generation Y interested in golf?

Host a concert featuring one of New Zealand's hot young talents.

In order to attract a more youthful crowd to the New Zealand PGA Championship next year, The Hills will host a small concert.

The concert was announced on Monday night to friends and invited guests of The Hills and will feature up-and-coming teenage artist Jamie McDell, who will release her debut album on Friday.

Tournament organiser and former Sony Music managing director Michael Glading said a similarity had been drawn between the 20-year-old Aucklander and successful New Zealand artists Brooke Fraser and Bic Runga at the same age.

McDell, who was on her first visit to Queenstown, performed three songs in front of an audience of about 100 and wasastonished by the landscape of the course and Queenstown.

"I am blown away. I can't believe this place."

Her hit singles to date include Rewind, All That I Wanted and You'll Never Take That Away.

Tournament director John Hart said the concert, which would be held on the second-last night of the tournament, on March 2, was about grabbing the attention of the younger crowd.

"We decided we'd like to have golf appeal to young people as well."

The announcement came shortly after teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko confirmed her return to the pro-am tournament for next year.

Ko is one of the world's most exciting young players and has had a record-breaking year, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event at the Canadian Open, being top amateur at the British Open, and winning the US Amateur Championship.

Even with a full calendar behind and ahead of her, the 15-year-old did not think twice about returning.

"The New Zealand PGA Championship last year was an absolute blast and I had so much fun," Ko said.

"It's not often that you get to play alongside a Hollywood star, give golf tips to the prime minister, and take on the top male pros, so I was very keen to come and play in the tournament again."

"When you add in the amazing course and all the great activities that you can do in Queenstown it was an easy decision to make."

She will pair up with English cricket great Sir Ian Botham.

Fellow English cricketer turned Australian cricket commentator Tony Greig's appearance at the tournament is now in doubt after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and began treatment this week.

At The Hills, Mr Hart said Prime Minister John Key had "announced he will play" at the tournament and South African golfing great David Frost was likely to play.

A strong professional field was building, with the tournament's inaugural winner, Michael Hendry, and runner-up Mark Brown confirmed along with the highly ranked Australian Brendan Jones.

The prize kitty has increased to $600,000 and the amateur field has expanded to 68, from last year's 62.

The tournament will run from February 29 to March 2.

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