New Zealand Professional Women Golfers (NZPWG) is hoping to inspire more players like Lydia Ko with the announcement of a lucrative new Tour event.
The fifth Anita Boon Pro-Am will this year be co-sanctioned with the Australia Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tour and carry a lucrative $35,000 prize purse for the 36-hole event.
With continued support from the major sponsors KFC and Coca-Cola, the Tournament will again be hosted at the North Shore Golf Club on 31 October and 1 November.
It will be an official ALPG Order of Merit event that offers aspiring professionals opportunity to earn points to better their chances to play in the major summer events in Australia.
It is the second ALPG Tour event in this country alongside the New Zealand Women’s Open.
Tournament organisers hope the upgraded pro-am will attract top level professionals from Australia and accordingly offer a real incentive for both New Zealand women professionals and also aspiring amateurs.
“Lydia Ko got her first opportunity to shine at the New Zealand Women’s Open which is also an ALPG Tour event,” said NZPWG spokesperson Stephanie Alderlieste. “She grabbed that opportunity, was motivated by playing against world class professionals and has blossomed.
“Our aim has always been to provide opportunities for aspiring female professionals and young amateurs to take that first step. Lydia has shown the way and we hope this tournament will provide a stepping stone for the next Lydia Ko and others to follow in her footsteps.”
The ALPG signalled support for the new Order of Merit tournament in New Zealand.
“We are delighted that the NZPWG have been successful in gaining the necessary sponsorship to enable the 2013 Anita Boon pro-am to become a part of the official ALPG 2013-14 schedule,” said Karen Lunn, the new Executive Director of the ALPG.
“The pro-am will showcase the best of New Zealand’s golfing talent. The event will provide an exciting mix of the who’s who of NZ women’s golf alongside the future stars of the game. Anita was an inspiration to many of us and we are so excited that we can honour her memory in this way.”
Former leading tour professional Marnie McGuire believes the upgraded tournament will offer significant benefits.
“This is fantastic news. This is a credit to the NZPWG in developing our young professional golfers in New Zealand and giving them opportunities to develop their games under tournament conditions,” McGuire said.
“This will potentially bring ranked Australian players and European tour players to New Zealand which will provide great exposure for our players and potential sponsors of the events. It is a very exciting time for Women’s Golf in New Zealand and I hope many Kiwis will get behind the event with participation and enthusiasm around the great talent that our players have.”
The event will be played as an open Pro-Am event over the two days with one female professional with three amateurs. The amateur field is mixed with men and women able to enter for either or both days. Commercial organisations and individuals are invited to enter the strictly limited number of spots in the field.
Tournament organisers are already in contact with several professionals and expect to make further announcements on players in the coming weeks.
The tournament will again help fund the NZPWG Golf Scholarship, with this year’s recipient Caroline Bon from Northland utilising the grant to assist her in qualifying for the Asian Tour where she is currently plying her trade.
The event was established in 2009 as the first all women’s pro-am in this country in memory of former New Zealand representative Anita Boon who passed away from ovarian cancer. The tournament, promoted by the New Zealand Professional Women’s Golf, includes a range of female professionals and former Tour players, club professionals and teachers as well as amateurs.
The tournament will also raise funds for NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation, which was Boon’s chosen charity.