Lack of big names for New Zealand Open a worry

Leading New Zealand golfer Mark Brown says the absence of the countries big-name golfers at its leading event is frustrating.


Mark BrownLEADING New Zealand golfer Mark Brown says the absence of the countries big-name golfers at its leading event is frustrating.

Brown is one of the favourites for the New Zealand Open, with Michael Hendry the highest ranked player at 350, and he said it was disappointing more recognisable faces were not lining up at Clearwater.

Danny Lee and 2005 US Open champ Michael Campbell are missing, and there is no big-name Australian taking part either.

“It’s just lacking that little bit of X-factor,” Brown told Fairfax NZ.

“I think it does [take the gloss off] but it’s just so difficult at this time of the year with scheduling. There are Q-schools, big money events in Europe and guys trying to keep their cards in the States so I don’t know if you’re ever going to have a perfect date.

“I’m sure the organisers look into it and try and schedule it as best they can but sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s frustrating for everyone involved that we can’t get at least all the top New Zealand guys back and even a few of the top guys from Aussie and around the world.”

Lee is at PGA Tour qualifying school and Campbell had been focusing on a failed bid to made a big money event in Dubai.

The tournament does not pay appearance fees and the prize money of $400,000 is less than half of tournaments in Australia.

Brown suggested co-sanctioning the event with a major tour, or playing it closer to the NZ PGA Pro-Am.

“I don’t know enough about it but maybe if we could get this and the PGA back together again it might attract guys to come over for a couple of weeks,” the world No 444 said.

“I’m sure a lot of the Aussie guys looked at the prizemoney and thought it might be a good week to have off. It’s just the way it is. You’d certainly need help with a couple of Aussie tournaments at the same time but to me if we could get three or four tournaments co-sanctioned with Europe . . .”

This is Brown’s first appearance since 2007.

“Any national Open is huge and I think I’d speak for most of the guys in saying we’d turn up and play for a peanut slab, the prizemoney is irrelevant. It’s been frustrating the last few years as it always clashed with Hong Kong when I was playing in Europe.

“It’s something I’ve definitely missed and when I’ve finished playing it would be great to have this tournament on the list I’ve won.”