Greg Turner signs up with eye on senior tour

STARTER'S CHANCE: Greg Turner says just making the cut would make him happy at next week's NZ Open.
STARTER'S CHANCE: Greg Turner says just making the cut would make him happy at next week's NZ Open.

The field for next week's New Zealand Open is starting to take shape with one local legend confirmed this week, 10 amateurs given wildcards and 10 more spots up for grabs on Monday at Russley.

New Zealand Golf yesterday confirmed 1989 and 1997 winner Greg Turner would play his first open in 10 years.

Turner, 49, is resurrecting his playing career with an eye to joining the European Senior Tour next year once he turns 50, but he doesn't believe he has the game to be in contention at the open at Clearwater next week.

"It would be incredibly optimistic to suggest that I would be in contention to win," he said.

"I would be happy if I made the cut. 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."

Turner said his first New Zealand Open win 23 years ago was a significant moment in his golfing career.

"The win in 1989 at Paraparaumu was huge, really, and a massive turning point for me. 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. That win turned everything around and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel."

That win was Turner's sixth as a professional and he went on to win another seven after that, including a second New Zealand Open, at Middlemore in 1997.

Turner said the New Zealand players in the field should be inspired to bring their best game to Clearwater next week.

"There is nothing like winning your national open. You dream of that moment when you're growing up as a kid and to realise that dream not once, but a couple of occasions is really special."

Danny Lee could still play, depending on how he goes in the second stage of US PGA Tour qualifying school. Lee will join fellow Kiwi Steve Alker in one of a handful of second-stage events in California, starting tomorrow.

If Lee doesn't make the cut-off point for the third and final stage - believed to be around the top 17 - his playing diary appears free and he could return to New Zealand in time for the first round at Clearwater on Thursday next week.

A New Zealand Golf spokesperson said no discussions had gone ahead with Lee about what would happen should he not qualify for the third stage, but the 22-year-old has consistently said he would like to play if possible.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Golf has invited 10 amateurs to play in the open, including Ashburton's Daniel Pearce.

The New Zealand Eisenhower Trophy team of Mathew Perry, Vaughan McCall and Ben Campbell have all been invited to play, although Campbell has since turned professional and Perry and Pearce are also likely to tee up as pros.

A pair of Australians - Nathan Holman and Brett Drewitt - have been invited by Golf Australia to play as part of a reciprocated deal with New Zealand Golf that means McCall, as New Zealand Amateur winner, will play in the Australian Open.

Compton Pikari (Te Awamutu), Tyler Hodge (Levin), Sam An and Harewood Open winner Josh Munn have also received invitations.

Ten more spots remain for qualifiers from Monday's one-round tournament at Russley.

Top Christchurch amateur Jordan Bakermans has finished 19th in his first international tournament, the Carlos Tailhade Cup, in Argentina. Bakermans shot rounds of 71 and 74 and he and Josh Munn finished second in the teams competition.

Bakermans now plays the Argentina Amateur before heading back to New Zealand to lead the Canterbury men's team at the national teams' competition next month.

Last week wasn't the week of titles Canterbury Golf had hoped it might have been.

The defending champion Freyberg Masters men's team finished fifth at the Maraenui Golf Club in Napier.

Both of their losses were narrow ones, going down 3-2 to eventual winners Waikato and to North Harbour by the same margin. Four of the five-man team had winning records, but the close nature of the competition - five of the side's eight matches were decided by 3-2 scorelines and one was halved - meant they finished down the order.

Coringa's Jason Sincock had the best record for the Canterbury side, winning six matches, halving one and being beaten just once.

The women's team of Anne Dick (Harewood), Rhonda Hira (Waimairi Beach), Jill Balloch (Harewood), Di Kay (Akaroa) finished ninth equal at the women's masters tournament in Invercargill.

Hosts Southland were again the runaway leaders at the 14-team tournament, winning by 11 points from Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay.

Coringa's Louise Gebbie continued her winning form by taking out the women's Champions of Champions title at Russley on Monday.

Gebbie, whose playoff putt helped Coringa win the Pollock Cup on Sunday, was the only player to break 80 in the 36-hole tournament, and her rounds of 78, 78 were enough to beat Rawhiti's Kate Turner by 10 shots.

Templeton's Clair Reid won the inaugural nine-hole Champions of Champions title, on a countback, from Harewood's Faye Sedgley.

Mary Samuela-Anderson (Scargill) narrowly won the Best 36 Hole Net trophy while Russley won the gross stableford Rosebowl district competition.