Te Puke golfer Charlie Hillier will defend the Danny Lee Springfield Open in Rotorua this weekend.

The 19 year-old Kansas University Jayhawk is back in the Bay of Plenty for the holiday season and knows what it takes to win the 54 hole event which opens the 2017 amateur season in this part of the world.

“The key is driving it in the fairway as it’s a very tight course … I think if I manage my game well and hit it to the right parts of the greens with the speed it usually plays,” Hillier assessed this week.

“If I do these things well then I’ll be right up there again.”

Hillier is halfway through his sophomore season at Kansas where he is proving to be a consistent contributor to his Jayhawk team.

He has contributed 17 of 18 counting rounds during tournaments and picked up a second placed finish in October’s Bayou City Collegiate Classic. Hillier has just once finished outside of the top 20.

He said he has been working on his driving with his New Zealand based coach James Kupa and also really hard in the gym and stretching. 

Hillier won’t be the only Jayhawk in the 96 strong field with his teammate Daniel Hudson also teeing it up this weekend. Playing off a plus three handicap Hudson, who originates from Illinois, should be one of the players to watch.

This year’s field is arguably the strongest assembled for this annual event which current PGA Tour Professional Danny Lee continues to support.

Lee’s vision is for the tournament to provide an opportunity for young amateurs to test their game annually on the heavily tree-lined par 70 course where he honed his skills while growing up in Rotorua.

The event this year is also the first time it will be included amongst those contributing points to the prestigious World Amateur Golf Rankings which are sanctioned jointly by the Royal and Ancient and US Golf Association.

The rankings winner at the end of the year, following some 2500 events in 100 countries, receives the Mark McCormick Medal which was won by Danny Lee back in 2008 with fellow Kiwi Lydia Ko topping the women’s standings in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

While Charlie Hillier is the defending Springfield Open champion there are several rising players who will want to add their names to the Springfield Golf Club’s honours board. Hillier’s brother Harry and fellow Bay of Plenty representatives Jordan Goulding and Joshua Rookes should be amongst the competition while Springfield’s James Tauariki is capable of surprising. Charlie Smail, Nathaniel Cassidy, Chris Charlton and Kurtis Cortesi should provide a Waikato challenge while Kevin Koong, Will Song and Johnny Tynan head an Auckland contingent.

In the women’s competition it is looming as the battle of former champions with New Zealand representative Chantelle Cassidy and Auckland rep Brittany Dryland both entered.

Cassidy won the title in 2011 while Dryland is a two-time champion from 2013 and 2015. Both took part in the recent Women’s Interprovincial Championship won by Auckland.

Play gets underway on Saturday morning from 7.30am.   There will be 36 holes on Saturday with the final 18 scheduled for Sunday from 8am. Spectators are welcome. ENDS


For further information contact

Springfield Open Tournament Director

Craig Tiriana

(027) 838 9961


Posted: Thu 05 Jan 2017