Defending champion Zach Murray of Australia is eager for more success after completing a long-haul flight from Mexico, in time to defend his title at the 101st New Zealand Open present by Sky Sport which starts on Thursday.
After competing in his maiden World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship where he finished tied-48th last week, the 22-year-old returns to familiar winning grounds in Queenstown where he won his first title as a professional last year.
It was also Murray’s first win in his third start on the Asian Tour since he graduated from Qualifying School in December 2018.
“I just landed in this morning and it’s been a pretty big day and a half for me but I’m feeling pretty good. I just had a nice pie from the bakery in Arrowtown so that’s fixed me up pretty good,” Murray said.
“When I rocked up to the hotel this morning my photo was in the front of the hotel so that was quite strange. It’s just so cool. I’m super excited.”
Major winners Michael Campbell of New Zealand along with Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy are also among the 156 professionals who will join 156 amateurs for the tournament at Millbrook Resort and The Hills.
Ogilvy spent much of the year settling his family into life in Australia after spending a large part of his life in the United States, where he won the 2006 US Open.
“It has been a change since I moved back to Australia after 20 years in America. Doing the school run a lot more, not getting on a plane every Sunday night has been nice. Getting used to that and settling the family down in Australia has been cool,” Ogilvy said.
“When I rocked up to the hotel this morning my photo was in the front of the hotel so that was quite strange. It’s just so cool. I’m super excited.” – Zach Murray
While he concedes he may not be able to beat his younger rivals in distance now, the 42-year-old is hopeful his vast experience can still put him in good stead for a good showing this week.
“The game is changing and getting a bit younger and more powerful but while you lose a little in length, you gain it in experience, so golf looks after to you a bit. In other sports the manager says you are done, go do something else. But golf doesn’t do that. There’s plenty of time, I am not in a hurry to do anything.”
Campbell, who headed Tiger Woods by two shots at Pinehurst in 2005 to secure a place in golfing history, returned to the game at the New Zealand Open last year.
The 2000 New Zealand Open champion is pleased to be in good shape physically, but admittedly felt that he is lacking in tournament play after being unable to secure regular starts on the Seniors Tour.
“I’m back to my fighting weight you could say. I’m down to 90 kilos which is what I was when I was playing, which is nice,” Campbell said.
“The only thing that’s lacking really is a bit of match practice, competitive rounds. I haven’t played since November so once again coming into this tournament I’m not expecting too much.”
The tournament tees off with 156 professionals and 156 amateurs playing at Millbrook Resort and The Hills, before the cut for the final two rounds are played at Millbrook Resort.
The tournament also hosts 152 amateur players, each partnering with a Professional in a two-man best-ball event, competing for the NZ Pro-Am Championship.