- New Zealand Open
New Zealand Open
The first edition of the New Zealand Open was held during the nation’s annual golf championship meeting at Napier Golf Club in 1907. It was a 36-hole contest involving 130 players with prizes of £25 and £10 for the two leading professional players, of whom there were only seven. Amateur Arthur Duncan had rounds of 83 and 76 to win the event by seven shots from another amateur player J. Carne Bidwell. Professionals Jack McLaren and David Hood finished third and fourth (on 167 and 168), entitling them to the cash bounties.
Sri Lankan-born Duncan would go on to claim another two Opens in 1910 and 1911, as well as winning a total of ten Amateur titles between 1899 and 1926. Astonishingly, he was the leading amateur in the 1936 NZ Open, finishing in third place at the age of 59. He served on the New Zealand Golf Association’s Council in the 1920s and was eventually elected president in 1950. Truly, he was one of the nation’s great sporting heroes.
Twelve editions of the championship were held before the Brodie Breeze Challenge Cup was presented for competition by Glasgow club maker George Brodie Breeze in 1923. Out of the blue, he wrote to the Golf Association offering “a silver cup to the value of 50 guineas” as the Open trophy and wisely his proposal was accepted, giving the shrewd Scot many years of prized publicity, long after he and his clubs had faded into obscurity.
In 1924, the Jellicoe Cup was presented by Viscount Jellicoe, the second Governor-General of New Zealand, and this trophy is awarded for the lowest round in the contest. Ten years later, the Bledisloe Cup was presented by Lord Bledisloe, the fourth Governor-General, and this trophy goes to the leading amateur in every tournament.
Apart from Scots-born Ted Douglas and Australian Joe Kirkwood Sr. who between them won all five Opens that were played either side of World War I between 1913 and 1921, the only other non-Kiwi to lift the Challenge Cup before World War II was South African Bobby Locke at Otago in 1938. Just starting out in his professional career, he won the Irish and South African Opens the same year and would go on to record many more victories around the world during the 1940s and 50s.
The aforementioned Arthur Duncan wasn’t the only amateur to win the New Zealand Open. Another six have since done the same but the only one to triumph as both an amateur and a professional is the great Bob Charles. His 1954 achievement as an 18-year-old amateur was followed up with professional successes in 1966, 1970 and 1973 but he’d to fight tooth and nail against stubborn Australian competitors for many years – between 1950 and 1973 Peter Thomson (9) and Kel Nagle (7) claimed sixteen of the twenty-four NZ Opens that were played during that period.
There was a handful of American wins during the 1970s and 1980s – Corey Pavin won in 1984 and 1985 – and further overseas conquests in the new millennium from Niclas Fasth at Gulf Harbour in 2005, Richard Finch at The Hills in 2007, followed by a couple of American wins at the same venue from Alex Pugh in 2009 and Bobby Gates in 2010. One player from the US who didn’t fare quite so well was Tiger Woods in 2002 when he played at Paraparaumu Beach, finishing only 5th behind winner Craig Parry.
Since 2014, the NZ Open has been a pro-am event, where professionals play with an amateur partner for the first two rounds, teeing it up alternately at two different courses before the second round cut of 60 competitors and ties. The final two rounds of the championship are then played on only one of the two layouts.
The New Zealand Open has been hosted by Paraparaumu Beach twelve times and the event has been held eleven times at Christchurch. Royal Auckland has staged the competition nine times and it’s taken place at Wanganui on eight occasions. Otago, Royal Wellington and The Hills have all hosted seven Opens. You’ll not find Miramar (1926, 1939) listed below as it does not feature in our North Island listings. The Grange (1970, 1986, 1995, 2001 and 2004) is also absent following the club's recent merger with Royal Auckland.
New Zealand Open Top 100 Leaderboard