Three British Open spots up for grabs

John Hart
John Hart
Three players in next year’s New Zealand Open will get a chance to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews.

NZ Open chairman John Hart yesterday announced The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews had included the Queenstown-based tournament in the British Open’s qualifying series for the first time.

The top three finishers from next year’s NZ Open, being played between March 31 and April 3 at Millbrook Resort, near Arrowtown, will gain a place in the field for the 150th British Open three months later.

"To have three guaranteed spots for the top finishers at the NZ Open at The Open is exceptional news, and we believe this will draw more and more international players to Queenstown in March."

Golf New Zealand chief executive Dean Murphy said all New Zealand golfers had a close affinity with the British Open, following Sir Bob Charles’ win in 1963.

Yesterday’s announcement "represents a real opportunity for another Kiwi to compete for the Claret Jug", he said.

"It’s pretty exciting that our national championship in NZ has been given the opportunity to have three places at the 150th milestone playing of The Open.

"We hope that this extra incentive provides those in the field a little more motivation to be at the top of the leaderboard when the final putt is sunk at Millbrook next year."

Charles, who became the first New Zealander to win a major, said he was "delighted" the R&A had recognised the New Zealand Open with the opportunity, "and I hope that we will see more Kiwis play in this historic event".

Meanwhile, the tournament committee met for the last time this year on Wednesday night, at which it confirmed the 102nd Open would go ahead next year, given the "overwhelmingly positive support" from key stakeholders.

After discussions with its co-sanctioning partners, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, Hart said organisers were confident the tournament would attract a strong international field, "subject only to arriving at satisfactory options for players having to self-isolate upon entry to New Zealand".

"We have had initial conversations with a number of international based players who have indicated that they would be willing to isolate ahead of the tournament if practice facilities were available.

"We are now working through options with the Government on how this will work and are confident in finding a positive outcome for all."


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