New Zealand’s number one golf tour returns tomorrow with the John Jones Steel Harewood Open the first leg of the 2017/18 Jennian Homes Charles Tour season.
The tour has been named after golfing royalty and is fortunate to see the man himself, Sir Bob Charles, playing today in the first Pro-Am of the season. With the first event in his hometown of Christchurch, the 1963 Open Champion is eager for the start of the exciting season.
“I’m very proud to have my name associated with the Jennian Homes Charles Tour and I am looking forward to competing in the Pro-Am at Harewood to start the Tour off. It’s certainly going to be an exciting season with all our young talent coming through the ranks.”
Defending champion Brad Shilton returns this year in contrasting fashion after having a small break from the game.
This time last year Shilton was arguably in career-best form after recording a third-place finish at the Fiji International and picking up his biggest payday to date.
“It’s great to be back, although I have only picked up my clubs twice in the last month or so which is all part of longevity for a big season ahead,” said Shilton.
“It’s been a refreshing break and it’s always nice to be back on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour and hopefully Harewood brings back some good memories and hopefully good form too.”
A pleasing addition to the first event is the return of 2003 New Zealand Open Champion, Mahal Pearce. After retiring from professional golf in 2014, the Jennian Homes Charles Tour is ensuring he remembers the taste of competitive golf.
Pearce will play alongside one of our up-and-coming champions in Daniel Hillier who became the youngest winner in history two years ago at this exact event.
The list of featured players doesn’t stop there with Jennian Homes Trophy Champion Gareth Paddison, five-time Jennian Homes Charles Tour winner Mark Brown and veteran Richard Lee also return to strengthen the experience in the Garden City this week.
One of New Zealand’s leading amateurs James Anstiss has also returned to New Zealand after a long stint in America as he prepares for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship later this month.
The women’s field will enjoy some great rivalries this week with local favourite Amelia Garvey returning from an exciting LPGA Tour campaign last week where she successfully made the cut.
Although she is yet to win in her own backyard, she is happy to be back and believes she has learnt a lot from her recent experience playing alongside the world’s best.
“It feels good to be back and nice seeing some familiar faces and nice to see Christchurch turning on the weather.
“I think the course will be a little easier than last week, but hopefully I have learnt a lot from the LPGA and I can stay patient and put some good numbers up there.”
Garvey claimed her maiden Jennian Homes Charles Tour victory at the Muriwai Open last year and will be looking to add to her tally early in the season.
“I haven’t won this event yet, so it would be a great one to win and will give me a lot of confidence and hopefully start a good trend in my goal to win more and more Jennian Homes Charles Tour events.”
There will be plenty of competition in line to stop her with defending champion Rose Zheng also here this week and looking to repeat her emphatic seven-shot victory last year.
A name very familiar to the Harewood Open trophy is Chantelle Cassidy who has won here three times now, which makes it impossible for the field not to notice her presence.