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Hopes for '22: The last NZ Open winner, Aussie pro Brad Kennedy, pictured after his 2020 win. PICTURE: BRETT PHIBBS/PHOTOSPORT

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

New Zealand Open tournament director Michael Glading says the committee will ‘‘be trying every which way we can’’ to get the 2022 tournament, scheduled for Arrowtown’s Millbrook
Resort from February 24-27, to tee off.

Organisers had to cancel the 2021 tournament last year after closed borders and a lack of direction, or clarity, from the government about when that might change left them no other
options.

Glading tells Mountain Scene, 12 months on, they’re in the same predicament but, at this stage, ‘‘we are still planning to proceed’’.

He says it’s ‘‘a nightmare’’ trying to organise an event without any certainty or timelines from the government around when NZ might open for international visitors — the tournament can’t run with just NZ golfers, but can go ahead with a trans-Tasman field.

But for that to happen, at the moment, up to 90 Aussie pros and about 20 amateurs will need to apply for exemptions, and nab sought-after MIQ spots to play.

‘‘If I had a perfect world, I’d push our event back, but we just can’t do that, so we’re stuck with the date we’ve got, which is the last week in February, and all we can do is just monitor it as we go,’’ Glading says.

Last year, the committee left it till the end of October to make a final call — the met last night to ‘‘set some more deadlines again’’, but will do everything they can to ensure the 102nd edition of the tourney goes ahead.

‘‘There’s a real desire to keep this event on the map, because there’s a real concern if it drops off the map it’s much harder to get going again.’’

Another factor, Glading says, is a wish to help Queenstown’s recovery.

‘‘What’s happened to Queenstown is heartbreaking, it really is, and it’s all very well congratulating the ‘team of five million’, but people are really hurting — I mean, really hurting — and I’m not sure that hurt is as evident to ministers as it should be.

‘‘We think it’s important that the event carries on … it’s important for the region, it’s important for the game, it’s important for NZ.’’

If they can get the Open off the ground, Glading expects a slightly-reduced pro field of 120 and the same number of amateurs, all but two of whom recommitted last year, ‘‘which is amazing’’.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz