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NZ OPENS

NZ OPENS

 Kennedy joins illustrious company with second New Zealand Open title
Australian Brad Kennedy has joined a select club of New Zealand Open multiple winners with victory at Millbrook Resort, near Queenstown.

The 45-year-old, who started the day two shots behind compatriot Lucas Herbert and Korean teenager Joohyung Kim, climbed to the top of the leaderboard with five holes remaining on the end of a run of three straight birdies.

His closing 63 equalled the low round of the day and saw him win by two shots from Herbert, with Australian Nick Flanagan in third place, a further two shots back.

Herbert seemed well on track to claim his second win in as many months, but the par 3 13th proved unlucky for him after he found the water and ended up with a double bogey.

Kennedy won the New Zealand Open at Christchurch’s Clearwater course in 2011, and the New Zealand PGA Championship in 2016.

He’s the first multiple winner of the Brodie Breeze trophy since Greg Turner in 1997, and the first Australian to achieve the feat since Bob Shearer in 1981.

“I just gutsed it out and really tried to play within my game as much as I could. I just let my putter do the talking today and I’m just relieved, and to do this again after nine years is just unbelievable,” he said.

“I didn’t look at a leaderboard all day. I actually posted a number in my head last night, 21 was the number, and I didn’t think I’d reach it but I just knew that this course was out there to be had, the course is playing unbelievable.”

Kennedy was on the rebound after a horror Queensland PGA Championship two weeks ago where he let a four shot lead slip with three holes to play.

“I was gutted after the Queensland PGA, I actually didn’t want to play last week, I was that mentally destroyed by what happened. To do that today under that sort of pressure and overcome that, I’m just really proud of what I did today.

“I’d always said 2020 was my last year. I’ve been playing 25 years on Tour and it was time to get home and spend some more time with my kids and wife. Who knows now? If I can still do it at 45 then I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile, Herbert was weighing up the positives of finishing runner-up despite not playing his best golf in Queenstown.

“Obviously I had the win in Dubai and then to back it up with another top-five finish was really pleasing and realistically I didn’t have my best stuff this week. To finish second you’ve got to look at the positives and I sort of can’t slouch too much at that,” he said.

“Brad’s played great out there today. He shot 8-under and kind of deserves to win given how well he played. He made the birdies when he needed to and he played the tough holes better than I did.”

Flanagan also paid credit to his compatriot.

“I don’t think there was any catching Brad out there today. He was pretty unbelievable. There was just a couple of pressure shots that I kind of messed up coming in but I battled for third which is still a great week. If someone had told me that at the start of the week it would have been great.”

Teenage prodigy Kim could only manage a one-under 70 to fade to fourth, four bogeys blotting his round.

New Zealanders Michael Hendry and Harry Bateman both shot four-under 67s for a share of fifth place.

Hendry now faces an uncertain immediate future with the Japan Tour in doubt due to the concerns over the coronavirus.

“I’ll be playing here for the next five weeks or so just in local events just trying to get myself ready for Japan. It’s a little up in the air as to whether we’ll be playing early in the season, but hopefully the authorities will get on top of it shortly and we’ll be able to carry on as normal.”

A bogey on the 18th was symptomatic of his putting throughout the tournament.

“The whole week the putter didn’t really gel with me. I just thought to myself, at least give them a chance to go in by getting them to the hole and that was all I tried to do coming in. I had a lot of good shots, but it just didn’t fall my way this week.”

In comparison, Bateman finished with consecutive birdies to card a bogey-free round.

“That’s my best finish ever in a big event. I was really solid, I only had one bad hole where I was in trouble but I made a good up and down and I didn’t have a bogey today. I left a few putts out there, for sure, but had two nice one’s to finish.”

Australian Wade Ormsby and American player Chan Kim finished tied for seventh at 14-under, while New Zealand’s Kieran Muir and Japan’s Ryosuke Kinoshita rounded out the top 10, a further shot back.

 
 
Janda wins inaugural New Zealand All Abilities Championship
 The inaugural New Zealand All Abilities Championship trophy is heading abroad to Czechia, with Jiri Janda capturing the title in dramatic fashion.

After starting the day with a seven-shot lead over local Kiwi hopeful Parker Aluesi, the pressure was applied quickly as the lead began to dissolve during the opening nine of the final round at Millbrook Resort.

The pair were going shot-for-shot through much of the back nine, and Janda held a one stroke lead standing on the difficult par 3 finishing hole.

After watching his playing partner safely find the heart of the green the Czech stepped up to hit one of the shots of his golfing life, hitting his tee shot to within 10 feet and have one hand on the trophy. He’d cap off the history making week by rolling in the birdie putt and celebrate accordingly.

Janda says he still can’t believe it.

“This is just excellent. Being here at this wonderful location and playing some great golf has been great this week.”

He says the inclusion of All Abilities players at the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport has been a golfing highlight.

“Playing at the head of the field in front of some of the world’s best professionals is a real honour.

“The golf course is in incredible condition and being a part of the New Zealand Open is excellent. I have no words,” says a speechless Janda.

Despite not walking away with the trophy, Janda’s playing partner Aluesi impressed hitting key shots down the stretch when it mattered.

Aluesi says coming up short is disappointing, but his experience has been incredible.

“I’m a bit gutted. I knew coming into today I needed a low round and I started off playing really well. I wanted to continue the momentum going into the back nine but unfortunately I couldn’t quite finish it off.

“The result doesn’t dampen my experience at all. The whole week has been amazing. I’ve never had an opportunity to play in an event like this one and I believe I’ve gained a lot as a golfer from the week; it’s been really special,” Aluesi says.

Janda shot rounds of 75 and 78 to finish two shots clear of Aluesi after 36 holes, with the first round being cancelled due to high winds.

 
 
 Golfers win trip of a lifetime to 149th Open Championship
 Two golfers have won themselves a trip of a lifetime to compete in their own nine-hole competition at the 149th Open Championship held at Royal St. Georges.
 

Brent Holmes from Mt Maunganui Golf Club and Troy Bygrave from Muriwai Golf Links earned their places in the field through New Zealand Golf’s nine-hole initiative Make Time Play 9 held in conjunction with The R&A, promoting the shorter format of the game.

They were two players of nine that made their way to compete in the Make Time Play 9 finals held at the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown. They qualified through handing in a nine-hole scorecard and were randomly selected from 211,461 people who also handed in a nine-hole scorecard in their bid to attend the Make Time Play 9 finals held at our national open.

Holmes had 17 stableford points to be the first person to book his plane ticket to Royal St. Georges with Bygrave also booking his place with 16 stableford points.

Holmes says he is over the moon with her new travel plans in July this year.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve been telling all my mates and they’re all really pumped for me. I would say a mixture of being shocked and stoked are my two main emotions right now.”

Although they were only playing nine holes as opposed to the professionals that’re playing at the New Zealand Open, he says he had an insight to what they’d be feeling down the stretch of a golf tournament.

“The nerves were pretty good. I was really nervous at the beginning of the round and then at the end when I knew I was a shot at being one of the two qualifiers. I settled down during the middle of the round and I hit some nice shots.

“I’m honestly really stoked. I can’t believe it,” says an elated Holmes.

Sharing a similar feeling of joy is Bygrave.

“I’m blown away. It’s all still sinking in.

“I really enjoyed being a part of the tournament and everything that is happening around it. It was just an unbelievable experience and I can’t believe more will be happening in July,” Bygrave says.

The trip of a lifetime also marks two very different but equally amazing stories about how the pair got into the game of golf. Holmes has had a club in hands since he was 10 years old whereas Bygrave only go into the game 10-years-ago.

“I watch The Open Championship every year. Sometimes I take the morning off work so I can get up early to watch the final round. I’ve been a golf nut since I was a kid and I love getting out on the course as much as I can,” Holmes says.

His travel partner also shares a similar love for the game.

“I started playing golf socially around a decade ago, and about five-years-ago I decided to make it a little more than just a hobby.

“I went and bought myself some golf clubs and a year and a half ago I joined Muriwai Golf Club and I play as much as I can,” Bygrave says.

Make Time Play 9 is New Zealand Golf’s newest initiative challenging the perception that golf is a time-consuming sport. Since the initiatives inception in October last year, we’ve encouraged all golfers to get outside and make time for time in their day to do things that are meaningful to them, to be active, to play with their friends and family, to take on a new personal challenge, and to have fun.

Both Holmes and Bygrave’s journey from getting out for nine holes has resulted in them playing in the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport, to now teeing it up at the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. Georges in July, at The R&A’s 9-Hole Challenge.

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    OOM LEADERBOARD

    RANK PLAYER SCORE
    1 Lee, Jang Hyun 141.71
    2 Smail, Charlie 70.86
    3 Jones, Samuel 70.29
    4 Kobori, Kazuma 57.14
    4 Zheng, Jimmy 57.14
    RANK PLAYER SCORE
    1 Son, Yeonsoo 78.05
    2 Kang, Sumin 69.60
    3 Chung, Darae 66.67
    4 May, Maddie 55.60
    5 Im, Amy 50.89