No great expectations from Aussies

NZ Open ambassadors, from left, Andy Lee, Ash Barty, Sean Fitzpatrick, Israel Dagg, Jeff Wilson,...
NZ Open ambassadors, from left, Andy Lee, Ash Barty, Sean Fitzpatrick, Israel Dagg, Jeff Wilson, Ella Gunson, Stephen Fleming and Ricky Ponting at Millbrook on Tuesday — absent’s Sir Ian Botham. PHOTO: MICHAEL THOMAS/PHOTOSPORT
They may be downplaying their abilities.

Former world tennis no.1 Ash Barty and fellow Aussie media personality Andy Lee reckon they’re potentially on a hiding to nothing during this week’s New Zealand Open golf tourney, which tees off at Millbrook Resort this morning.

While Barty, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion, ranked world singles no.1 for 121 weeks overall during her stellar 12-year pro tennis career, plays off a 4 handicap, she tells Mountain Scene "it’s all talked up".

"I top ’em, cut ’em, I hook ’em — I do a bit of everything — so let’s just hope we find a couple straight in the middle there and we’ll be alright."

While the 27-year-old’s excited to play at Millbrook — last year she watched the Open — she’s expecting to feel "awful, terrible" this morning.

More used to rocking up to a golf course with her mum and girlfriends five minutes before her tee time on a Saturday morning — "and if it’s going south we call it after nine holes, and go and have a coffee instead" — she’s aware this is an entirely different ballgame.

Lee, meantime, says he has "zero expectations of me".

"I just try to tell jokes for a living, so if I hit it poorly, and everyone laughs, I’m also successful."

Half of comedy duo Hamish & Andy, Lee’s stoked to be here for his first NZ Open, joking he assumes he got the call-up because 96 others before him couldn’t make it.

He’s also no slug on the green, holding a 6 handicap at his home course, Melbourne’s Peninsula Kingswood.

That may have been helped by the simulator he installed in his house about 10 years ago.

"I don’t spend money on anything else," he laughs, "I’m on the same couch we’ve had for 25 years.

"My girlfriend asks to upgrade everything else, but the golf comes first for me."