It’s been a spectacular start to the BMW New Zealand Open with the first two days hailed a success.
Players, fans and organisers have all expressed their delight with the tournament’s opening days.
Tournament director Michael Glading said he’s “encouraged” by feedback so far.
“Players tell me the courses are in fantastic condition and are even more beautiful than last year.”
All eyes were on Millbrook Resort yesterday morning (Thursday) as the ‘ANZ Celebrity Challenge’ tee’d off to thrilled crowds who caught more than a glimpse of their favourite cricket legends.
Stars including Shane Warne, Sir Viv Richards and Sir Ian Botham stole the show with fabulous displays of great banter and good golf. But it was ex-All Black Andrew Mehrtens who came out tops, finishing first celebrity out of a star-studded pack.
It was also a day to remember for pro golfer Scott Arnold, as the Aussie potted this year’s first hole-in-one.
Mr Glading said a stand-out feature of the day was the integration of Japanese professionals into the tournament. This is the second year the Open has partnered with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) and the relationship has significantly strengthened.
“I’m delighted to see how well the Japanese pros are performing and hugely encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received from the JGTO,” said Glading.
For the first time, live TV coverage captured the tournament aired on Sky Sports 2, and will run until end of play on Sunday.
“It was a pretty special feeling to see live golf coverage on the big screen at ‘The 19th’ for the first time. I’m really looking forward to the extended coverage on Saturday and Sunday,” said Glading.
Australians David Bransdon and Won Joon Lee topped the leader board at the end of day one after stunning conditions at The Hills saw them secure the lead. Home-crowd favourite Michael Hendry finished top New Zealander.
The fun continued into Friday (today) with focus shifting to event entertainment hub ‘The 19th’ at The Hills. Celebrity chef and restaurateur Josh Emett held the event’s first ‘Long Lunch’ presented by his Queenstown restaurant, Rata. Guests enjoyed the best the region has to offer with divine Otago sourced food and wine.
X-factor star Benny Tipene headlines ‘Open Sounds by Amisfield’, an open air concert held in the heart of the 19th.
Going into the weekend the golf notches up a gear as does the atmosphere with two full days of the tournament still come.
Tickets are still available to on the gate or from www.bmwnzopen.com.