NZ Open date pushed back

Australia's Brad Kennedy, winner of the 2019 NZ Open, with the Brodie Breeze Trophy. PICTURE: PHOTOSPORT.NZ
Australia's Brad Kennedy, winner of the 2019 NZ Open, with the Brodie Breeze Trophy. PICTURE: PHOTOSPORT.NZ
Next year’s New Zealand Open has been pushed back to the end of March.

Tournament chairman John Hart says the 102nd edition of the Open, to have been held in late February, has been rescheduled for Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort, between March 31 and April 3, to allow for the best possible field to compete, and give the tourney the best chance of being staged.

Due to Covid, the Open wasn’t held this year — it’s the first time it’s been cancelled since wartime.

Committing to it, with no certainty of a trans-Tasman bubble, could have resulted in a $4 million loss for tournament co-host Millbrook Resort alone should Covid-19 force New Zealand, or parts of it, back into lockdown.

But pulling the pin resulted in a loss of millions of dollars from the local economy, both through direct and indirect spending.

Hart says tournament organisers have been working extensively with the team at the PGA Tour of Australia and the Asian Tour to have their calendars accommodate a full playing tour for players, while acknowledging current border restrictions.

The Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championships have already been rescheduled, from November/December this year to January/February next year, and Hart says it’s essential the NZ Open team reduced any potential conflicts for players travelling between Aus and NZ.

‘‘This new date avoids any tournament conflict for players, and while we have no certainty at present, we are hopeful that travel and quarantine restrictions and Alert Levels by that time will allow more freedom of travel between Australia and NZ, and hopefully even further afield.

‘‘We are fully committed to holding the NZ Open next year at whatever level is possible, subject to Covid restrictions.

‘‘At a time when event after event is being cancelled, the tournament underwriters, Millbrook Resort, are determined to do everything possible to stage the NZ Open in 2022, hopefully giving Queenstown and the greater Otago region, which has suffered severely during this Covid pandemic, a much-needed economic boost,’’ Hart says.

The Open will be played across 36 holes at Millbrook, including the new nine holes opening by year-end, and will be broadcast by Sky Sport in NZ and through various networks overseas.

Hart says the date change will only apply to the ‘22 event — it’s intended the 103rd Open will be held in February, 2023.

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