Massive Public Support at the New Zealand Women's Open

Kiwi golf fans have voted with their feet at the inaugural LPGA-sanctioned New Zealand Women's Open at Windross Farm, leaving visiting Tour bosses beaming with satisfaction.

After crowds through the first two days that had the New Zealand event on a par with anything seen anywhere on the LPGA Tour this year, and player feedback almost entirely positive, early assessments for the event were off-the-charts positive.

Sean Pyun, vice-president and managing director of LPGA Asia, said the outstanding galleries through the first half and into Saturday had left Tour officials flabbergasted at the response from the Kiwi golfing fraternity.

"I have been to about 15 events this year and I have to say that the Thursday-Friday may have been the biggest crowd of the LPGA events this year, and if not the biggest certainly one of the biggest," said Pyun. "We have been blown away by that. "It tells us there's a great market for women's golf here and, with what Lydia [Ko] is doing, hopefully we'll be here for a very long time.”

And the early feedback from players was similarly positive. "Everybody here is ecstatic," added Pyun. "The players have had the opportunity to venture out a bit, appreciate the good wines, good food, very nice people and a ton of people out here to watch the tournament makes the players feel good and the LPGA look good. Everything has been very positive this year."

Pyun heaped plenty of praise on tournament organisers The Clubhouse whom he felt had done a fine job promoting and running the event.

And the LPGA's Asian chief said the organisation's desire to take events to the home countries of their iconic players had continued to prove a success.

"We've got a lot of young superstars coming out, Lydia being one of them, so there is some freshness of our product here too. Overall it's been a really good group effort with The Clubhouse guys, the LPGA and fans coming out and embracing us."

All of which begs the question: is the tournament destined to stay in its current spot at the start of the season-ending Asian swing, or will it move into February alongside the Australian event which is a more natural fit, and would probably work best for players?

"Having back to backs with Australia and New Zealand would be a great strategy for us to have even more players come out and participate. I've had an earful from a lot of players who wanted to be here but couldn't make it based on the flow of the schedule.

"It's  one of the things on the LPGA's plate to revisit after the event."

But Pyun conceded there were other considerations than better weather and travel to consider, with a lot of the local and central government funding for the event tired in to it sitting in its current shoulder season spot, rather than mid-summer.

The LPGA chief also admitted the concentration of interest around Kiwi star Ko had raised one or two logistical issues on the first day, but those had quickly been resolved.

He said the aim was to educate the public "to come out and eventually just appreciate the quality of golf being played, as opposed to one or two names. But those things take time, and right now we've made an extremely positive start in New Zealand."

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