Opinion: NZ Women's Open could become this country's premium summer sporting event

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In a month's time, New Zealand will be treated to arguably its best sporting field ever. Eight major winners, two former world number one players and two women currently in the top 10.

The New Zealand Women's Open will move to Auckland where it will be held at the newly-designed Windross Farm after previously being held in Christchurch.
Source: 1 NEWS

Some may treat next month's New Zealand Women's Open at Windross Farm as a "what could have been" - there'll be no current world number one, with So Yeon Ryu missing, while American drawcards Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie will also be stark absentees.

But, those that have confirmed their places in the field boast impressive career records.

Lydia Ko, out of form or not, is majestic to watch, always great to deal with from a fan and media point of view and makes an effort to come home and give back to the game here.

She hasn't won for more than a year and would be the first to admit this year hasn't been her best, but having spent 104 weeks at world number one, already rates as one of this country's most special sporting talents.

Since claiming her first LPGA Tour win as an amateur, at the Canadian Open in 2012, Ko has always attracted a swathe of galleries in Christchurch where the NZ Open has been held since its inception in 2009.

In fact, compared to the galleries for the men’s equivalent over the past decade, it dwarfs them.

Add to Ko's 104 weeks at the top in total and a similar period at the summit from fellow NZ Open attendee Yani Tseng, and the two most dominant players in women's golf for nearly half a decade will grace our fairways.

Both have won major titles. As have US Solheim Cup-winning trio Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Danielle Kang along with Korean's Na Yeon Choi, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson.

It's an impressive lineup.

In terms of one-off golf appearances, it won't compare to the hysteria and hype when Tiger Woods played at the New Zealand Open in 2002, but it will be significant.

Auckland's two tennis tournaments in January have long dominated for talent, thanks to some superb work from both Richard Palmer and his tournament director successor Karl Budge.

It's been the hottest ticket in town and will likely remain so.

But, for the New Zealand Women's Open to boast the calibre of talent it does headlining the field, in its first year on the LPGA Tour might I add, is a significant achievement from Michael Goldstein, Michael Glading and the team at The Clubhouse.

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