Brettkelly one step away from NZ Open birth

HOPEFUL: Dominic Brettkelly is hopeful of shooting a strong round in Cromwell to qualify for the New Zealand Open.

Hororata’s Dominic Brettkelly is one step away from a spot in the New Zealand Open after victory at a qualifying event in Christchurch last week.

Brettkelly, 18, shot a one-over-par 73 in windy conditions at the Christchurch club, which proved to be the best score in the one-round tournament.

The amateur now advances to the final stage of qualifying at the Cromwell club on February 27. The left-hander advanced to the same stage in 2017. However, he feels his game has progressed considerably over the past 12 months and is confident of being in the hunt for a spot at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown from March 1-4.

“If you’re not under par, you don’t stand a chance. I’ve played the course a lot, so I feel pretty comfortable around there but it’s still a big step up,” said Brettkelly.

“My ball-striking and iron play has improved a lot. I’m hitting more greens and my consistency has improved as well.”

Another final qualifying round event takes place on the same day at Paraparaumu Beach. The six leading scorers on a pro-rata basis across both events will move through to the final field for the $1.2 million New Zealand Open. The big purse will once again attract a host of international golfers looking to qualify for the event. That will raise the standard required by the likes of Brettkelly, who is looking for one of the final spots in the field.

“Last year I played with an Australian guy that had flown over just for the qualifying and he didn’t get in so he just went straight home.”

Other qualifiers from the Christchurch tournament were Tom Wilson, Templeton, Tom Hardy, Russley, Jordan Pruden, Bottle Lake, Joshua Roche, Christchurch, and Peter Brinsdon, Pegasus.

The Christchurch qualifiers and 19 other first-round qualifiers from around the country will join exempt amateurs and professionals who miss out on direct entry at the final qualifying round.

The 10 top amateurs on the order of merit at the end of 2017 and the leading 50 players from the New Zealand PGA order of merit automatically go through to final qualifying.

Brettkelly has had a strong start to the year. In January, he won the Canterbury stroke-play title at Waitikiri.

In August, Brettkelly will depart for the United States to begin life as a student athlete at division one college, Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green.