Following on from yesterdays Super Bowl which saw the Kansas City Chiefs win their first National Football League (NFL) title since 1969, it has been announced that one of the NFL’s longest-serving players Larry Fitzgerald will play in the 2020 New Zealand Open.
Fitzgerald is one of the most acclaimed wide receivers in the sport’s history and on the weekend was voted in as the NFL’s first-ever “Anything but Ordinary Player of the Year” after his 16th season at the Arizona Cardinals.
As the 36-year-old is weighing up whether to continue in the NFL next year, he is enjoying his other passion of playing golf and will join other sporting ambassadors to play alongside the professionals at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from 27 February to 1 March.
The American is no stranger to the game, renowned golfing fanatic and a single figure player, Fitzgerald’s golfing exploits include scoring a hole in one while playing with former President Barack Obama and winning the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pro-Am in California (with professional Kevin Streelman) two years ago.
Only last week he teed off with Presidents Cup star Rickie Fowler at the Phoenix Open Pro-am.
Fitzgerald will join sporting celebrities playing in the tournament including All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Sean Fitzpatrick and Israel Dagg, cricketers Shane Warne, Stephen Fleming, Sir Ian Botham, Chris Harris and double international Jeff Wilson.
“Our ambassadors add much to the tournament, not just on the course where they are all passionate golfers, but off it where they work in the local community and mix with our paying amateur guests,” said New Zealand Open Tournament Director, Michael Glading.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have attracted Larry to travel to New Zealand after a suggestion from another amateur competitor knows him. Larry is a golfing tragic and plays as much as he can when he is not involved in the NFL”.
Fitzgerald shot 120 in his first game of golf, but that included two birdies which sparked his interest.
“I was hooked and the next day I started hitting balls and it became an obsession. It is a microcosm of life. You are going to have great shots, completely horrible shots and you’re going to do stupid, stupid things. You learn so much about someone about how they handle adversity and how they handle prosperity. That’s why I really enjoy it.”
The news comes off the back of news that Australian Lucas Herbert, fresh from his maiden European Tour victory in Dubai two weeks ago, has confirmed his entry to the New Zealand Open.
Herbert is now ranked 84 in the world and is placed at number two on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Herbert, in announcing his intention to return to play in New Zealand said: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Queenstown.
“My win in Dubai last week was very exciting and hopefully I can continue that form in the stunning backdrop of Queenstown.”
With just under a month to go, the field is taking shape, with more announcements expected over the next two weeks.