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Jimmy Zheng, Adam Church and Matthew McLean have secured the last three places in the field for the 2020 New Zealand Open following the final round of qualifying today.
After regional qualifying was held across the country in late January, the highest scoring 25 players plus amateurs and professionals who were already exempt into the final stage of qualifying descended on Cromwell Golf Club this morning for the final test to decide the final three spots.
In the qualifying, Zheng (Howick) tied with Church (Judgeford) on 6-under with McLean (Harewood) two shots back on 4-under. Six players tied for fourth and unfortunately, all failed to make the final place. Jayden Ford, also from Church’s club of Judgeford, scored a birdie on the first playoff hole to become the first alternate for the event.
Zheng, 18 was one-under-par through nine holes before firing five birdies on the second nine in his 66. The Youth Olympian is one of the most promising young amateurs in the country.
Speaking with NZ Golf Magazine, Zheng said he was super excited about his debut NZ Open.
“After three failed tries, I’m excited that I got through on my 4th try,” Zheng said.
Haven’t played Millbrook or the Hills before, so I’m keen on getting into tournament prep.”
Joining him is the 38-year-old Church, who played in the New Zealand Open at the Hills in 2009, but had not contemplated entering the qualifying this year.
“My wife entered me and I played well enough in regional qualifying to make it to final today. I played really well today and this is pretty exciting,” said Church.
“With my job and my family, I don’t get much time to actually play golf. So this is a real bonus and I am excited.”
Matthew McLean will return after playing in 2017 where he was cut after finishing par following two rounds.
“It was just pleasing to get through today, the last few months golf and me haven’t really got on,” McLean said.
“But you have to take the good with the bad in this game. This was an event I really wanted to play. My team and I targeted the NZ Open as a good opportunity to gain some valuable experience for the future so it was really up to me today to make it happen.
“It was also nice to have my dad on the bag today. When I got in three years ago he caddied for me so it must be a good luck charm.
“I’m just itching to get started really, it’s such an awesome venue and it’s going to be nice to see friends and family walking the ropes supporting me, hopefully to go one better this time and make the weekend is the main goal for this week.”
Leading Scores Final Qualifying, Cromwell Golf Club, P designates Professional, Par 72, 3 to qualify:
66 Jimmy Zheng (Howick), Adam Church (Judgeford)
68 Matthew McLean (Harewood)
69 Callum Judkins (Otago), Jayden Ford (Judgeford), Lachie McDonald (P, Marton), Victor Janin (P, Rotorua), James Hydes (Gulf Harbour), Jesper Bengtsson (Noth Shore)
70 Mark Hutson (P, Unattached), Yongiu Kin (Whitford Park), Richard Lee (P, NZL) Charlie Smail (Walton), Jordan Woodall (Cambridge).
Leading Scores, Final Qualifying, Caboolture GC, Queensland, all professionals, Par 71, 3 to qualify:
64 Samuel Eves (Queensland)
65 Michael Wright (Queensland)