Open attracts celebrity talent

The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan and New Zealand celebrity chef and restaurateur Josh Emett will play amongst the celebrity field at the New Zealand Open next month.

Keoghan, who has graced TV screens worldwide for over 20 years, is no stranger to Queenstown and is "excited" to be coming home for the event, as a guest of the Milford Track Guided Walk team.

"During my career I've always tried to find an excuse for shooting in Queenstown, so I simply can't wait to come back again. I just never thought it would be for golf."

Best known for his role as presenter for Jerry Bruckheimer's Emmy award-winning television show The Amazing Race, Keoghan is one of New Zealand's biggest celebrity exports.

"Queenstown is also where I broke a world bungee jump record, leaping with commercial bungy jumping inventor Henry van Asch. You never know, he might get me up there again. As far as my golf game goes, well I did putt a ball clear across Scotland once. That was fun."

Keoghan is referring to the time he was famously documented putting a golf ball the full length of Scotland - from coast to coast over four days - as he thought "it'd be a great way to meet the people".

New Zealand Master Chef judge Josh Emett will also join the celebrity pack.

Emett has two restaurants in Queenstown - Rata and his new venture Madam Woos - and said he was looking forward to "a different sort of challenge".

Emett, who is a guest of Michael Hill Jewellers in the tournament, confessed that "teeing off in front of a crowd of people, quite frankly, terrifies me".

"Being part of a tournament like this is huge for me. I love golf but I never get enough time to play. My game needs plenty of work but I've been hitting the driving range and getting in a few rounds."

The four-day tournament will also feature former cricketers Stephen Fleming, Ricky Ponting, Allan Border and Mark Richardson and rugby greats Jeff Wilson, Justin Marshall and Nick Farr-Jones.

Also joining the field is former New Zealand netballer Julie Coney, former All Blacks Andrew Mehrtens and Andy Haden and ex-All Black coach John Hart.

American dancer, choreographer and model Cris Judd will also join the field alongside Australian dual international Wendell Sailor.

Tournament director Michael Glading said he was delighted with the celebrity names announced and was very much looking forward to seeing them compete against each other.

"There are certainly some old sporting rivalries at play this year and it'll be great to see everyone's competitive natures come out in force.

"Aussies versus Kiwis, rugby players versus cricketers and some inter-sports rivalry will give spectators lots to watch and there'll certainly be some groups in the galleries taking sides and cheering on their heroes.

"The calibre and diversity of celebrities this year is phenomenal and our celebrities are looking forward to being part of the country's biggest sporting event of the year," Glading said.