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Golf in Godzone: The Kiwi Who Starred At The Masters

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

The story of Kiwi, Wayne Mitchell, a 59-year-old ex-pat from Rotorua who now lives in the States is getting rave notices about his “performance” at the Masters. Alas he wasn’t playing there, just picking up a ball thrown to him by Louis Oosthuizen after the South African sank his second shot. An albatross, one of only four ever scored at this famous tournament.

The New Zealand Herald reports that, “It landed in the hands of Mitchell, who was making his fifth trip to the tournament.”

"Actually, the biggest fear I had was that I was going to drop it,'' Mr Mitchell said before eventually giving the ball to Augusta National officials later in the afternoon…Club officials declined to divulge whatever arrangement was made for the ball.” However by all accounts Wayne was “killed with kindness” by Augusta officials and I get the feeling that Wayne who was not a first-time “patron” (How’s that for being PC) will get preferred seating for the 2013 Masters.

I’m told that famous golf balls don’t match baseballs at auctions and Louis’ ball probably wouldn’t have got more than $10,000.

Dene Mackenzie at the ODT writes, “Golf estimated as $1 billion industry” but it’s all downhill from there as he surveys the state of club golf in New Zealand.

“One of the problems golf needed to address as a business was a game model based on tradition that did not suit many people. It was daunting to drive up to a golf course and see all the signs saying what you could not do as a member rather than becoming more flexible and member friendly.”

Nicola Abercrombie at Stuff starts with the good news that, “New Zealand PGA Pro-Am winner Michael Hendry has climbed 169 places in the world golf rankings after his narrow victory in Queenstown. “ but once again it’s downhill all the way from there.

Apart from Danny Lee who sits at 160 in the official world golf rankings it’s, 336 David Smail - 423 Michael Hendry -  467 Josh Geary  - 509 Gareth Paddison -  533 Mark Brown - 578 Tim Wilkinson - 652 Michael Long - 797 Michael Campbell -  832 Steven Alker

It may be of some consolation to Cambo that he doesn’t come last in the top 10 Kiwis but it’s a worry that it could be some time before we see a Kiwi other than very courteous ex-pat New Zealander and Steve Williams getting coverage at the Masters.

Here’s the link to the NZ Herald and Dene but don’t go there if you need cheering up on the state of NZ golf.  And to Nicola

Quote of the Day

“Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United’s team-bonding trip to St Andrews has helped tee up another title." – Headline from The Sun complete with pic of Sir Alex holding the Claret Jug.

Now there’s a thought for a team-bonding experience and increasing the golfing numbers in Godzone

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