TOP FIELD LINES UP FOR PORT TARANAKI OPEN

28/09/2011

It is the oldest event on the Charles Tour and the tour’s newest winner Jim Cusdin is looking forward to taking on another strong field at the $40,000 Port Taranaki Open that begins on Thursday at the Ngamotu Golf Club.

The 26-year-old, who is fresh from his two shot win at the Carrus Tauranga Open, is looking to add to his breakthrough four round win as a professional.

“I really like the Ngamtou course and I am focused on staying in the same mindset and belief in my ability that carried me home in the Tauranga,” said big hitting Waikato professional who finished tied fourth at the event in 2010.

“It was a massive thing for me winning in Tauranga as I proved to myself that I can get across the line under pressure. I was really pleased with how I played those last nine holes. That is when the heat went on and I played some great golf.”

Cusdin, who had won a number of one day and two pro-am events, delivered made crucial birdies on 14 and 16 and held off the charge of New Zealand number one amateur Ryan Fox.

“It gives me confidence that if I am in that situation again I will handle it and use that same game plan. It is not a time to be conservative I need to keep playing my natural game plan and attack – it is not a time to be stupid and go over the top – but don’t lay up and play to win.”

He will compete against a quality field that includes experienced pros like Richard Lee, who is returning from the Japan Golf Tour, and local favourite Grant Moorhead.

Brad Shilton arrives in New Plymouth in good form after finishing fourth at the South Pacific Golf Open Championship in New Caledonia and runner up in Samoa over the weekend.

Defending champion Troy Ropiha and regular Charles Tour winner Doug Holloway are also among the front runners.

The title prospects of Ropiha should not be overlooked. He grew up learning the game on the Ngamotu links and has won the event there as both an amateur and a professional in 2010. When it comes to winning in Taranaki Ropiha knows how to get it done.

Joshua Carmichael shot an impressive seven under 65 in the final round of the Wanganui Pro-am on the weekend to show his title credentials. He won that title by one shot from

Nick Gillespie who has claimed two titles overseas in his rookie year as a professional.

The caliber of players will ensure the third Charles Tour title for 2011 goes down to the wire on Sunday afternoon.

“It is a quality field,” said Cusdin. “Mike and Gareth are probably the two form golfers in New Zealand at the moment as our representatives at the World Cup but they have swapped this week for some quality players in the likes of Ali [Richard Lee] and Doug [Holloway].

‘There is some real depth in the field for the Taranaki Open so it will make for a good tournament and you know you have to hit it well to score at Ngamotu.”

The Taranaki Open was the inaugural event of the Greg Turner (GTNZ) tour which has now evolved into the Charles Tour.

“We are very proud to have been involved in establishing this concept which attracts New Zealand's best golfers - both amateur and professional, male and female,” said Taranaki Golf CEO David McCallum.

“It is great to have the best in the country playing a local event and having past winners like Mark Brown, Brad Iles and Michael Hendry is testament of how important the Charles Tour is in providing a pathway for our elite players onto more lucrative tours around the world.”

The infamous wild weather in New Plymouth in September always makes the Ngamotu golf course a real challenge.

“While Ngamotu is relatively short players can expect tough weather conditions at this time of year. The equinox seems to guarantee a real mixed bag of weather with the wind more than often blowing from every quarter throughout the duration of the tournament.”

The 2009 champion Hendry believed that it is enduring those conditions made you ready for anything on tour overseas. McCallum agreed saying the Port Taranaki Open has a proud history of creating a pathway for success.

“Many of the players that have performed well at the Taranaki Open have gone onto perform well on the international stage. Maybe the conditions that players face at Ngamotu at this time of the year helps build their mental toughness.

"Six of New Zealand’s highest ranked male amateurs Ryan Fox, Ben Campbell, Joshua Munn, Vaughan McCall, Mathew Perry and Sam An are in Singapore for the Asian Amateur Championship this week which tees off on Thursday.

New Zealand women’s rep Emily Perry, a multiple winner on the Charles Tour, will look to back up her four shot win at the Carrus Tauranga Open.

 

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