Turner returning to contest NZ Open
Two-time former champion Greg Turner will next week play the New Zealand Open for the first time in 10 years.
Turner, who played his first competitive tournament in eight years at the Harewood Open on the Charles Tour last month, has taken his comeback a step further by signing up for the national golf open at Clearwater in Christchurch, which starts next Thursday.
The 49-year-old, who last played in 2002 at Paraparaumu Beach when Tiger Woods made a controversial appearance, plans to join the Senior European Tour when he turns 50 next year and will no doubt be keen to see how his game measures up, having retired from international golf in 2004.
He has since forged a successful course design business with Scott Macpherson.
Turner, though, was quick to temper any expectation or prospects of becoming a three-time champion at New Zealand’s premier golf tournament.
“It would be incredibly optimistic to suggest that I would be in contention to win. I would be happy if I made the cut,” said Turner from his home in Central Otago.
"But I guess golf is a funny game and you never know. I never thought I would play the New Zealand Open again so it should be an interesting week.”
In his time away from the game Turner has had plenty of time to reflect and he said winning the New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu in 1989 and Middlemore in 1997 were both significant moments in his life.
“The win in 1989 at Paraparaumu was huge really and a massive turning point for me,” he said.
“I was having a really tough couple of years and was struggling with a swing change that I had been working on since May that year. I was really battling and my confidence was really low. That win turned everything around and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It is impossible to overstate how important that win was for me – it changed my whole career really. I went from being short of confidence in a swing change to winning the NZ Open and then I went to the World Cup of Golf in Europe with Simon Owen and we played really well to finish sixth and then I went to European Tour School and two weeks later got my card back.
"In 1997, I just remember playing really well all week and that week was the catalyst to me playing some of the best golf in my career. I won late in ’97 and went onto play in The Presidents Cup which was one of the standout moments of my career.
"I won 12 times around the world, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for the two wins I had at the New Zealand Open.”
Turner showed that he still has something to offer at the Harewood Open, on the course he redesigned. He shot rounds of 74, 74, 73 and 76 to finish tied 25th in his comeback.
“I felt like I played better than I was expecting but not as well as I would have liked if that makes sense. I felt good at the end of the week and I felt like my game was getting better and better.”