Dean Murphy defends open field

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012
CHP STD
Getty Images
TALKS: Discussions were held with two-time major winner Daly about a possible appearance at Clearwater.

Relevant offers

Golf

Alker off to slow start in final Web.com event Home of golf votes to allow female memebers Adam Scott parts ways with caddie Williams Women may finally enter St Andrews clubhouse Rory McIlroy wins top PGA of America award Injured Woods 'busting my butt in the gym' Golfer wins trip to space with hole-in-one Brief break for Lydia Ko, but operation will wait Horschel holds off McIlroy to collect FedEx Cup Greg Norman jokes off chain saw accident

They chased John Daly and Robert Allenby but this week's New Zealand Open will still have as strong a field as possible, says New Zealand Golf boss Dean Murphy.

Discussions were held with two-time major winner Daly about a possible appearance at Clearwater, but a schedule clash ruled out the enigmatic 46-year-old the way it did for Allenby. The open is run by NZG and Touhy Associates.

Murphy said there was still a possibility both could play next year as could other top Australians, while a change in PGA Q-school could also make more top Kiwis available next year.

But without Daly and Allenby, and the unavailability of New Zealand's top two players, Danny Lee and Michael Campbell, the tournament is lacking a major drawcard.

Even defending champion Aussie Brad Kennedy was too busy to return and he is ranked 153 in the world.

But Murphy says the field is as strong as it could be.

"We've got a total operating budget of around $2 million," he said.

"It would cost at least that to get one of the top 10 players in the world."

Most top 100 players will ask for a couple of hundred thousand dollars, Murphy said.

"And New Zealand Golf have a policy not to pay appearance fees."

NZG prefers to offer an experience or holiday in New Zealand for its prospective players, though that hasn't worked for next week's tournament.

The main drawcards will be a string of Kiwis, but even the form of New Zealand's top players has counted against tournament organisers.

Lee and Tim Wilkinson have both qualified for next week's PGA Q-School's six-round Final Stage tournament.

Lee carded rounds of 65, 73, 69 and 71 in California yesterday to finish fourth equal while Wilkinson fired 67, 70, 71 and 69 to finish tied for 11th at another event in Florida.

Josh Geary and Steve Alker have bowed out of qualifying. Geary, who finished third last year, will return to New Zealand for the tournament, Murphy confirmed, while Alker will not.

Fairfax Media understands Campbell was not intending to return to New Zealand this summer.

Most of the top Kiwis who will be here this week are in form.

Mark Brown, Michael Hendry, Gareth Paddison and Ryan Fox have all finished in the top 20 of the Australian Masters in Melbourne.

And if those players don't bring people to the tournament, it's hoped the likes of the more-experienced David Smail, Phil Tataurangi and Greg Turner will.

Ad Feedback

Meanwhile, today's qualifying tournament at Russley will now give at least 19 players a chance to play in the open.

A field of 99 players will tee off today and the original 10 spots up for grabs had ballooned to 19 last night because of injuries and withdrawals from the open.

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

Would you be happy to pay for PGA Tour coverage online?

Absolutely. I'll do whatever it takes to watch golf.

It depends on how good the service is.

If it's not on TV, I won't watch it.

What? The PGA Tour's not going to be on Sky TV?

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content