The Wanganui Open is played this Sunday at the Wanganui Golf Club. This is an event with a long history, and was at its prime one of New Zealand's bigger events on the annual calendar, attracting some of the big names in amateur golf at the time. I remember as a young junior competing in the event amongst players such as Steven Alker, Michael Long, David Smail, Grant Moorhead, Phil Tataurangi and the likes. The amateur game has changed since those days, whereby events such as the Wanganui Open struggled to compete with well sponsored Charles Tour events, and high ranking amateur championships in the main centres. Unless an event could attract the big names, then they also struggled to attract decent size fields, so events had to adapt to retain interest. A few years back the Wanganui Open organisers decided to reduce the event down to 36 holes to appeal more to local players to full the field. The Wanganui Open is now part of a series of four main events on the Manawatu Wanganui Order of Merit, which is used as a tool for selecting rep teams. These events have to date been successful in attracting the best players from Manawatu Wanganui and some rep players from neighbouring districts.
The 2014 Wanganui Open has again attracted a good size field, and is boosted by the inclusion of Manawatu/Wanganui number 1 and NZ Eisenhower team member Josh Munn. Josh will use the event to ready his game for the upcoming Eisenhower World teams event in September. Another interesting inclusion is playing professional and former Wanganui player Nick Gillespie. While Nick cannot technically claim an amateur event title, it will be great to see Nick playing the event this year amongst our local amateurs. Also returning this year are defending champions Lachie McDonald and Brydie Hodge. Lachie last year blitzed the field with rounds of 64 and 66 (10 under par). Local Manawatu Wanganui players with games to challenge for the title could come from former winners Junior Tatana and Ewan Westergaard, along with Horowhenua Open winner Rhys Harold. Levin's Tyler Hodge will sit out this event, after a recent busy schedule, coming back from injury. In the women's field Brydie Hodge should see the main challengers coming from Manawatu's Emma Clayton and local Wanganui player Amber-Rose Thompson-Newth.
The field also contains a number of local rep players eager to prove to selectors that they have the form to be included in teams. A number of Taranaki rep players have also entered giving the event some out of town interest.
Good luck to all the players on Sunday. The long range forecast at this stage looks reasonable for Sunday, so fingers crossed they are correct. Late entries are being taken by Wanganui Golf Club, so if you are interested give them a call on 06 3490559.
2013 Champions Lachie McDonald