Open’s new opening

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Arrowtown’s welcome party for next month’s New Zealand Golf Open has been canned.

The event – run by the Arrowtown Promotion & Business Association and supported by the Open – ran into funding issues with organisers unable to secure a key sponsor.

But a new event dubbed ‘Open Night at Millbrook’ is taking its place, run by the ISPS Handa NZ Open team itself.

Golf tournament boss, Michael Glading, says: “While we understand why they cancelled, we wanted to make sure we still had an evening where we threw the doors open to the public.”

The opening event kicks off at Millbrook Resort on March 1 from 3.30pm, with free entry.

Celeb players Hayden Paddon, Jeff Wilson, Stephen Fleming, Ricky Ponting, Sir Ian Botham, Masumi Kuwata and Grant Fox will be floating about signing autographs at the opening party.

There’ll also be live music, face painting for the kids, food and drinks.

APBA project co-ordinator Sue Patterson says the organisation intends to run a welcome party in 2019 and encourages people to attend the Millbrook 6function and the Open itself.

“It’s such good value.

“And the Open, Sir Michael Hill at The Hills, and Mr Ishii at Millbrook, have made such a huge contribution to the town and the resort.”

Ten former winners of the Brodie Breeze Trophy are among the field chasing an elusive second title at the 99th Open, split between Millbrook Resort and The Hills, from March 1-4.

Defending champion Kiwi golfer Michael Hendry will be looking for back-to-back wins. Other former winners are Michael Long (1996), David Smail (2001), and Aussies Peter Fowler (1993), Peter OMalley (1995), Brad Kennedy (2011), Jake Higginbottom (2012), Dimi-trios Papadalos (2014), Jordan Zunic (2015) and Matthew Griffin (2016).

“Many of these players have been supporting this event for many years, and all of them have played virtually every year since we changed the format of the event,” Glading says.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz