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The Hills Invitation Pro-Am field for this weekend’s 36-hole event is one to excite.
The strongest possible available field has been assembled with only Ryan Fox, Josh Geary, Queenstowner Ben Campbell and former winner Mark Brown absent because of essential prior engagements or unforeseen circumstances.
In a welcome move, the field will include two of New Zealand’s best female professionals.
Momoka Kobori earned her position from her top-12 order of merit placing for 2021 after some great performances on the Charles Tour competing with the men.
Also in the field is Amelia Garvey, who narrowly missed out recently on qualifying for the main LPGA Tour but will be able to earn qualification through the Symetra Tour in 2022 in a bid to join Lydia Ko on the LPGA Tour.
Twelve players from the order of merit plus eight invitees make up the 20-person field that will compete for the $50,000 prizemoney.
Headlining the men’s field are defending champion Dongwoo Kang and recent European Challenge Tour winner Daniel Hillier, who only narrowly missed full European Tour qualification.
The event is more than welcome for tour players Michael Hendry (Japan), James Anstiss (Latino), Nick Voke (Korn Ferry) and Gareth Paddison (Asian), who have been unable to travel because of Covid. In fact, there must have been a collective sigh of relief when the invitations arrived.
"There has been nothing to play in to earn a living," Queenstown golfer Anstiss said.
"I haven’t played a tournament for seven months. However, I have been working full-time to fill the void.”
Anstiss has still been able to get some practice rounds in at The Hills, and a recent round of 62 (10-under-par) indicates it would not surprise if he was to gain his second win in this event.
The remainder of the field is made up of former winner Harry Bateman, Luke Toomey, Jordan Loof, Kieran Muir, Fraser Wilkin, Johnny Tynan, Sam An, Luke Brown, Ryan Chisnall, Fraser MacLachlan, Brad Shilton and Hills professional Craig Palmer.
The 20 professionals will each play with three Hills members in an accompanying team event over both days.
Although this is not a spectator event, live scoring will be available on the Golf Genius app and likely on the PGA website.
- Neville Idour