Not one, but two US Open winners for NZ Open

Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy who will join Michael Campbell as one of two US Open winners to compete in the New Zealand Open.

Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy who will join Michael Campbell as one of two US Open winners to compete in the New Zealand Open.

The 100th New Zealand Open will have two United States Open winners in the field.

One is comeback New Zealand golfer Michael Campbell. It was announced last month that Campbell would resume his professional career in the New Zealand Open before embarking on the seniors tours in the US and Europe.

The other US Open winner confirmed for the open in Queenstown from February 28-March 3 is Geoff Ogilvy from Australia.

Ogilvy won the US Open in 2006, the year after Campbell triumphed at the Pinehurst No 2 course in North Carolina when Tiger Woods was one of the runners-up.

In addition to the 2006 US Open, Ogilivy also won three World Golf Championships and was once ranked at No 3 in the world.

Ogilvy, 41, will be making just his second start in a New Zealand Open and part of the decision to put up his hand was he has relocated back to Melbourne after 20 years living in the US.

“The New Zealand Open is seen by golfers internationally as a fantastic tournament,’’ Ogilvy said.

“They say Queenstown is the prettiest place in the world — I’ve never been there so I can’t wait.

“Professional golf can put you in a box and when you play in the US it’s just easier to stay there. It hasn’t really been possible to compete in the New Zealand Open – but it is now and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Ogilvy has won 12 times as a professional including eight occasions on the PGA Tour, culminating in his victory at the 2006 US Open. He was fourth in the 2011 US Masters, fifth in the British Open in 2005 and twice sixth in the PGA Championship. Overall, he spent two and a half years in the top 10 world rankings.

New Zealand Open tournament director Michael Glading said Ogilvy’s presence would add to the event’s stature.

“We are delighted to attract someone of Geoff’s calibre to this event,” Glading said.

“For two decades he has been one of Australia’s most successful players in Europe and on the PGA Tour.

“We are confident he will enjoy the experiences on and off the golf course in Queenstown. Geoff is a student of the game and I know he is mindful of the great players from his homeland who have left such an indelible mark on the New Zealand Open Championship in the past.”

Ogilvy is quick to say, however, that he is not just coming to make up the numbers.

“The older you get, the more things like national opens take pride of place on your resume. Tournaments like the New Zealand Open stand the test of time.”

Former Australian golfer, the late Peter Thomson, won the New Zealand Open an amazing eight times in the 1950s and 1960s and Ogilvy is well aware he was one of the tournament’s most dominate competitors.

“I knew Peter Thomson very well – a real legend who has won this tournament many times. I’ve also had the privilege to play a lot over the years with New Zealanders like Cambo (Michael Campbell) and Phil Tataurangi,” Ogilvy said.

Ogilvy competed at the 1999 New Zealand Open at Formosa in Auckland but it is not how he wants to be remembered.

“The wind blew 100 miles an hour, it was my last tournament after nine in a row and it was one tournament too far. I didn’t make the cut – so let’s call this my first time properly at a New Zealand Open,” he said with a smile.

While he is looking forward to the open, he is unsure how much golf he will play in 2019 as his next few years will be dedicated more to his three children.

“I am done playing 26 to 30 tournaments a year at least for the next few years.

“If I play well, then absolutely I will likely play a bit more but if I don’t, then I’ll focus more on my golf architecture business and my media work. It is an exciting period but I will always be a professional golfer. I am always going to play a few tournaments every year.

“To win would be amazingly special. I’m definitely coming to try and make that happen.”

Ogilvy will compete for a prize pool of $1.3 million in a field of 152 players over two courses, The Millbrook Resort and The Hills. The final two rounds will be at The Hills.

Simultaneously, a pairing of one professional and one amateur will play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship, making it a unique event within the Asia-Pacific region. The event is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.