New Zealand was voted Golf Destination of the Year for the Asia & Australasia region for 2009. The award was presented at the International Golf Travel Mart in Marbella Spain on 21st November.
The selection for winning destinations is made through votes cast by over 300 golf tour operators from 45 countries. Each operator was asked to nominate what they considered to be the best performing golf destinations this year enjoyed by their golf travelling clients. The top four finalists were Australia, China, New Zealand and Thailand.
American Alex Prugh proved unstoppable in the
fi nal round of the Michael Hill New Zealand Open at
The Hills course, fi ring two eagles and fi ve birdies
for the day’s best round of eight-under par 64.
That superb round backed up three earlier subpar
scores of 65, 71 and 69 for a 19-under total of
269 which gave Prugh victory by three shots from
countryman Martin Piller with Jim Herman, two
shots back, completing an American trifecta.
Prugh, in only his second year on the tour, stole
the show at The Hills course with a sensational
fi nish after an uneventful fi rst seven holes which
produced a birdie and a bogey at the seventh
where he three-putted.
“I thought I’d be lapped,’’ he said, and at that point
he was two shots behind Herman, who had birdied
the fi rst three holes.
At the par-4 465m eighth, Prugh pushed his drive
into rough but struck the perfect wedge shot. That
eagle gave him momentum and confi dence at a
vital time and the native from Washington State
fi red a barrage of birdies.
After birdies at 11, 12, 14 and 16, Prugh, who got
a start in the 2007 United States Open through
making the quarter-fi nals of his country’s amateur
match-play championship, killed off the opposition
with his second eagle which gave him a four-shot
lead. “I hit two awesome shots, a good drive into the
intermediate rough and a 3-wood which was
perfect and fi nished pin-high. I had an uphill,
breaking 25-foot putt which I started three to four
feet outside the edge and it went in the centre – it
was a great feeling.’’ Prugh safely made par at the last from the back of
the green and admitted to feeling “a bit emotional’’
as he was greeted with a warm ovation from a big
gallery as he walked on to the 18th green.
“I’ve never seen numbers like that before, it was
nice to hear all those people cheering for you.’’
Prugh, who made 14 cuts from 20 starts in his
rookie season on last year’s Nationwide Tour, is the
fi rst American winner of the New Zealand Open
since Corey Pavin at Russley in 1985.
Pavin had also won the tournament the previous
year and Prugh vowed to return next year to see if
he can do the double.
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