Paddon first celebrity confirmed to play in Open

Hayden Paddon
Hayden Paddon
New Zealand motorsport star and Hyundai ambassador Hayden Paddon will swap his rally car for golf clubs as the first celebrity announced to play in the New Zealand Open in Queenstown next month.

Paddon will fly home after the Swedish round of the FIA World Rally Championship in which he competes for the Hyundai Shell Mobis team, to compete in the 99th New Zealand Open.

The Open will be held at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from March 1-4.

Celebrities will form part of the amateur field and Paddon will contest the tournament for the first time.

The 30-year-old, who is the first New Zealand driver to compete in the full WRC calendar, is a keen golfer who plays off a 12.9 handicap.

Paddon’s 2018 international schedule with Hyundai  offers the Kiwi the chance to spend more time in New Zealand during March and April. Alongside this new opportunity to play in the Open, he will join long-time co-driver John Kennard  to contest several rounds of the 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship in his Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car.

Paddon said he always loved getting out on a golf course to relax and unwind in a different form of competition.

"The New Zealand Open is set among the most beautiful courses and scenery in the world," he said.

"It’s an honour to be a part of it and to play these courses."

Paddon started playing golf as a young boy.

"My granddad was a greenkeeper at a golf course in Geraldine when I was young, and he always took me out golfing with him.

"That’s where the love for the sport started and through my high school years, I would be playing two or three times a week.

"My schedule doesn’t allow me to play more than half a dozen times a year now.

"I always try and get in some games when in New Zealand, particularly at my new home club in Wanaka, but there’s no time for golf in Europe at present."

Paddon will have cousin Matt Bowater, who is a scratch player, as his caddie.

The Open will have 144 professionals competing for the $1.2 million prize purse.

For the first two rounds, the professionals will be accompanied by 144 amateurs, forming teams of two playing 18 holes at each of Millbrook Resort and The Hills.

After the second round, there is a cut for the leading 30 amateurs who will join the top 60 professionals (plus ties) for the final two rounds at Millbrook Resort. The remainder of the amateur field will contest a separate one-day event at nearby Jacks Point.

Other celebrities will be announced over the next two weeks. 

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