• Formidable Field for New Zealand Strokeplay Championship

    Daniel Hillier will not be an amateur New Zealand golfer for much longer, or so it would seem, as he is currently the top amateur in the country and has nothing left to prove at that level.

    Time to start playing for money.

    All in good time. All in good time.

    Hillier would like to win the New Zealand Strokeplay Championship this week and he will be on familiar ground on the links at Paraparaumu Beach, where he and defending champion Mark Hutson of North Harbour will be the headliners.

    Hillier is just 19, so he has time before he joins the group of golfers who play for pay, a group where each and every one has similar credentials and know that making noise at the amateur level is more of an expectation, as opposed to a clear-cut indication, of success.

    He has played with the pros before and his showing in the New Zealand Open in Queenstown found him shooting a third-round score of 64, seven under par. He tied for 23rd when playing at that level, taking home the Bledisloe Cup as the top amateur in the field.

    Holder of two titles as the top amateur in New Zealand by way of his win at Russley, Christchurch last year, he has yet to claim victory in the 72-hole strokeplay, but his form would seem to indicate that he is on the verge.

    “It’s always nice to be playing close to home where I have plenty of experience. I love the course here and it would be an awesome feeling to win both of the big ones,” said Hillier.

    Hutson will be defending his title from last year and seems intent on making it two straight.

    “It’s exciting to be defending champion this week, but I have to focus on the challenge ahead because it won’t be easy with the quality of players here,” said Hutson.