Hill needs $400k for NZ Open

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Queenstown jewellery magnate Michael Hill – battling to hold on to golf’s New Zealand Open – has revealed he needs another $400,000 to have a shot at keeping it. 

Hill told a Winter Festival business luncheon today that hosting the event at his Arrowtown course The Hills costs $4 million and he had a $400,000 shortfall. 

“The money is just about all there, the strategy is in place. There is a local shortfall now that will have to be coughed up.” 

Asked where he wanted it to come from – either council or individuals, he said: “That would be perfect. We don’t care how we get it.” 

The $400,000 revelation comes ahead of a crucial meeting between Hill and NZ Open bosses this Monday. 

Rumours are rife that Christchurch City Council is close to securing the event for its Clearwater course. 

Hill claims the bosses of the tournament, which injects an estimated $30 million into Queenstown’s economy each year, want to keep it in the Wakatipu. 

“They really want it at The Hills. It’s a perfect viewing platform, Tourism New Zealand want it held here and it shows New Zealand off beautifully. 

“There’s a beautiful course in Christchurch but it’s flat and has airlines flying over it and doesn’t showcase New Zealand as beautifully,” Hill says. 

NZ Open chief executive Dean Murphy has told Mountain Scene no venues are frontrunners and The Hills is in contention. 

“It’s been incredibly successful there and because of that it has given the tournament some life and lots of people want to be involved with it these days.”