Tyro pros’ challenge



Three Queenstown trainee golf pros are facing their biggest challenge of the year this weekend.

The 2020 Titleist Trainee Golf Champs are being held at the Queenstown (Kelvin Heights) and Arrowtown clubs, with a total purse of $10,000 — $1800 of which will go to the winner.

The first two rounds are being played at Kelvin Heights on Sunday before the final round, at Arrowtown, on Monday — the event will culminate with graduation celebrations on Tuesday.

Locals vying for the title in a field of about 40 players from across New Zealand are Mitchell Newport (The Hills), Luke Leesburg (Jack’s Point) and Quinton Thompson (Queenstown Golf Club).

Newport says they’re all excited about the ‘‘added bonus’’ — the winner will also qualify for the 20th spot in The Hills Invitational ProAm, being held on December 18 and 19, which has $50,000 prize money up for grabs.

‘‘It’s real cool having this on the line.

‘‘It will make us a bit more nervous if we are in with a chance playing the last few holes at Arrowtown.’’

The event, compulsory for trainees, is usually held in April, but Covid forced it to be moved to coincide with the graduation ceremony of the three-year course.

PGA general manager Dominic Sainsbury says about 12 trainees will receive full PGA membership after graduation, while others are still working towards it.

Other awards being handed out include outstanding contribution throughout the year and community initiatives the trainees have implemented in their local communities.