Zwart leads golf

Apenisa Koroicure in action at Denarau Golf Course on Friday, June 15, 2018. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

DEFENDING champion Pieter Zwart of New Zealand has stamped his mark at the 2018 Sheraton Golf Classic in Nadi. The Central Hawkes Bay professional was on fire in the opening two rounds displaying fine knowledge of the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club course and the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. He carded six under par 66 in round one at Natadola and then followed it up with an impressive eight under par 64 at Denarau to lead the pack with 14 under par 130 and be in the driving seat for the $15,000 first prize. While the tournament has individual competitions for amateurs and professionals, there is a slight change in the format whereby there is emphasis on a team’s stableford and gross scores. Tournament organiser Richard Ellis said the change in the format this year was to get the field moving quickly and be done within five hours at each venue. “I don’t think we can make the tournament bigger than this because we have a capacity field,” Ellis said. “We have 63 teams of four players each. That makes it to 252 golfers. We have been using courses at Natadola and Denarau daily. “The event is generating great tourism dollars for Fiji. The top professionals are playing for $100,000 prize money. “The prize money is split up into different categories. There is $60,000 for individual professionals, there is $30,000 in teams events and there is $10,000 for the seniors and ladies professionals.” Ellis has been a golf professional for more than 30 years. He spent 14 years as a tournament professional, winning 15 tournaments playing on the Asian, Australian, New Zealand and the South Pacific Tours. Ellis served as the president of the New Zealand PGA for 10 years and was a director of the PGA Tour of Australasia for 15 years. In 1998 Ellis was awarded golf’s international goodwill trophy by the International Golf Association. Ellis said everything had gone really well at this year’s Sheraton Golf Classic. “There are some fantastic professionals participating,” he said. “A 14 under par by the defending champion after two rounds is a great score. He is going a long way to retaining his title.”

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