NZ PGA Pro-Am gets big prizemoney boost

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 12:13 11/10/2012

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Prizemoney for the 2013 NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship has increased by 20 percent courtesy of a funding injection from the Government, which organisers hope will help to attract a stronger international field than this year's inaugural event.

The success and interest generated by The Hills-hosted event near Queenstown this year has led to increased support from the Government, via its Major Events Development Fund, it was announced today.

That has resulted as increase in total prizemoney from $500,000 to $600,000, giving the tournament tier-one status on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Tournament chairman John Hart and director Michael Glading are hoping that, plus the earlier start date - the tournament will be played from February 28 to March 3 next year - will help to attract an even stronger field.

At the tournament launch in Auckland, organisers announced the defending champion Kiwi Mike Hendry, and top Australian golfer Brendan Jones, a two-time winner on the Japan Tour this year, were both confirmed to play next year.

But the highest profile confirmed entries were in fact cricketers, with England great Sir Ian Botham and former England captain Tony Greig, these days better known for his television commentary deeds, among the starters in the pro-am event.

The tournament coincides with a four-day match in Queenstown between the touring England team and a New Zealand XI.

Botham is a regular in pro-am events and most recently played at the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links tournament in Scotland last week.

''I am absolutely delighted to have been invited to play in the New Zealand equivalent at The Hills in Queenstown next year,'' Botham said.

''I look forward to once again returning to Queenstown, taking in the sights, sampling the fantastic local wines and food, playing golf and supporting my beloved England cricket team. This is something I could not miss."

Organisers have the long-term aim of making the tournament a significant event on the Kiwi sporting calendar and use it to leverage tourism and trade opportunities, particularly in Australia and Asia.

Further celebrities and professionals will be announced over the coming months.

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- Fairfax Media

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