Marquee groups to make up for lack of stars

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 10:21 21/11/2012
Mark Brown
Getty Images
MARK BROWN: "I've played 12 or 13 tournaments but every one of them has been good - it's the right approach for me."

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Organisers have made the savvy move to include the Kiwi contenders in marquee groupings for the first two rounds of the New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club tomorrow and Friday.

Marquee groupings are common around the world but given the absence of any big names for the 94th Open here in Christchurch, they will likely generate public interest and some good galleries.

Joint tournament favourite Mark Brown has been paired with 1995 champion Peter O'Malley from Australia and fellow in-form Wellington professional Gareth Paddison at 8am off the 10th tee tomorrow.

New Zealand PGA Champion Michael Hendry, who is looking to become the first golfer to complete the NZ PGA-NZ Open double in the same year since Kel Nagle in 1958, is playing alongside Josh Geary, the leading Kiwi at the event for the past three years, and leading Australian amateur Jake Higginbottom in the following group.

Two-time champion Greg Turner, who is playing his first NZ Open for 10 years, is teeing off with former PGA Tour winner Phil Tataurangi and the highest ranked Aussie in the field, Nick Cullen, at 7:40am, while New Zealand's Ryan Fox, who has won three times in his rookie year as a professional, will tee off with his former Eisenhower teammate Ben Campbell and Australian pro Ewan Porter at 7:30am.

Otago pro Mahal Peace, who is the last Kiwi to win the event, is off at 7:50am off the 10th alongside New Zealand No.1 amateur Vaughan McCall and Queensland professional Ryan Haller.  Those groups will all have afternoon tee times on Friday.

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