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World Champion Jaime Young & Olympian Nick Willis Headline New Zealand Speedgolf Open Field

By Allan Phillips

· Golf,Speed Golf,Tournament

The 2017 Speedgolf season takes off this weekend in New Zealand, beginning an exciting three week stretch of events in New Zealand, Australia and the United States (California).

World Class Line Up

Headlining the field in New Zealand on March 4-5 is reigning Speedgolf World Champion Jamie Young of the United States. Young enters this event ranked #3 in the Pace of Change Speedgolf Power Rankings and looks to claim his third title on the modern Speedgolf Tour (2013 Virginia Speedgolf Open, 2016 Speedgolf World Championships). After competing in New Zealand, Young will head north to Australia to play in the Australian Speedgolf Open the following week.

Nick Willis returns to Speedgolf competition after a lengthy hiatus during which he focused on preparing for the 2016 Olympics, where he claimed his second career medal in the 1500m. Though his last Speedgolf event was back in the 2015 Speedgolf World Championships, Willis has a record of success in his homeland’s national open with a second place finish in 2015. On the strength of that tournament and his performances at three Speedgolf World Championships, Willis looks to improve upon his #17 spot in the Power Rankings.

Also headlining the field is defending champion Richard Olsen, who enters the event ranked #15 in the Power Rankings. Olsen completed the rare feat of defeating Rob Hogan with a final round 117 (note this is the second consecutive year in which New Zealand has attracted the reigning World Champion to their national open!!). Olsen made the journey to the USA for the Speedgolf World Championships last year but was slowed by an injury and finished outside the top 10.

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Overall, the tournament committee has attracted a robust field with solid golf credentials, as the half the entrants (as of this post) hold handicap indexes of 6.0 or less. Along with a competitive men’s field, the women’s event should also be hotly contested with New Zealand professionals Liz Mackinnon and Renee Fowler highlighting the field. Although most of the field outside the three headliners lacks significant international Speedgolf experience, the quality of golf credentials suggests we may see low scoring!

Host Venue

Rotorua Golf Club again plays host to the championship. The 5800m layout is a classic test but previous events have shown that low scores and times are possible. As a side note, along with graciously hosting the national open, Rotorua also boasts one of the most well organized Speedgolf programs on the planet.

Be sure to follow the POC over the coming weeks as we review the action from New Zealand and look ahead to another great event in Australia!

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