INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ash Barty Headlines New Zealand Open Ambassador Line Up

Published: Tue 23 Jan 2024 06:10 PM
Former world tennis number one Ash Barty is confirmed to headline the Ambassador line up for the 103rd New Zealand Open, set to take place between February 29 and March 3, 2024 at Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort.
Barty, who attended the New Zealand Open in 2023 as a spectator, is a three-time Grand Slam singles champion with an impressive competitive streak. She played on the world’s stage across her 12-year professional tennis career in which she was ranked world singles number one for 121 weeks overall.
Barty is also a very accomplished golfer who plays off a 4 handicap. In 2022 she played in the Icons Golf Series in New Jersey alongside other international sporting icons like American swimming legend Michael Phelps, English footballer Harry Kane and former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting.
“The New Zealand Open is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed my time there this year supporting our friend Louis Dobbelaar,” said Barty. “New Zealand is a beautiful country and somewhere I always love to visit.
“Having the opportunity to play in the pro-am event is something I’m excited about, though I definitely need to start practising! Golf has always been a passion of mine, I feel fortunate to be able to play in events like the New Zealand Open and experience an incredible course like Millbrook.
“I imagine that first tee shot in front of everyone will be quite nerve-wracking, but once the first ball hits the fairway, hopefully things should settle down. My aim is to go out there and enjoy every minute of it and hopefully make the weekend pro-am cut.”
Joining Barty in the Ambassador line up for 2024 is Australian media personality Andy Lee. He is one half of the Hamish & Andy duo, Australia's highest-rating and most popular radio presenters.
Lee is a well-known comedian, television and radio host, musician and children’s writer and is also pretty handy with his golf clubs holding a 6 handicap at his home course of Peninsula Kingswood in Melbourne. A self-confessed golf tragic, Lee is also an ambassador for Social Golf Australia where he helps host events for amateur players across the country.
“Yeah, I would say I’m pretty hooked on golf. I started playing when I was at University and just never stopped. I even put a simulator into my house, so maybe the right phrase is obsessed. But I just love the game for what it gives you, and takes from you, physically and mentally,” said Lee.
“I’m really looking forward to the New Zealand Open. It’s my first time playing in a national Open like this, so it’s going to be quite an experience.
“Playing alongside the pro’s in such an important tournament for them and their careers is not something many people get to do, so I feel very privileged to have this opportunity.”
Tournament Chairman John Hart is excited to welcome Barty and Lee to the New Zealand Open and is looking forward to seeing them tee it up alongside the pro’s.
“We’re delighted to have Ash and Andy join us this year as part of our Ambassador line up. Both will bring lots of excitement and enthusiasm to the tournament and I have no doubt they will add to the quality on and off the course,” said Hart.
“Our fantastic group of returning ambassadors do such a great job helping with all our events and functions that run alongside the tournament. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to provide the high level of spectator and guest experience we’re well known for.”
Barty and Lee will tee it up alongside former New Zealand representatives Jeff Wilson (rugby and cricket), Sean Fitzpatrick (rugby), Israel Dagg (rugby), Stephen Fleming (cricket), Ella Gunson (hockey) as well as international rally driver Hayden Paddon, former Australian Cricket captain Ricky Ponting, and former England Cricket legend Sir Ian Botham.
For more information about the New Zealand Open please visit nzopen.com

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