Christchurch is hosting its first major international sporting fixture this week since February's disastrous earthquake. The New Zealand Open golf tournament has begun at the Clearwater resort on the outskirts of the city, and the field includes three high-profile Australasian players who are there for the right reasons; The Press reports:
Fat wallets with big hearts have arrived in Christchurch.
The New Zealand Golf Open tees off at Clearwater Golf Club today featuring a heavyweight trio with combined career earnings of well over $20 million in Kiwi Michael Campbell and Australians Craig Parry and Peter O'Malley.
All three fronted the media yesterday and said they were here to play "not for the money" but to "give" back to Christchurch.
Campbell, a former US Open winner, said: "Financially I'm very comfortable and I'm not here for the money.
"I have no idea how much we are playing for this week and I don't really care. All I want to do is hold that silverware.
"I am here to support the event and support Christchurch. I signed up as soon as I knew the tournament would be here."
The open is the first truly international sporting fixture to be played in sports-starved Christchurch since February's earthquake.
There's a $500,000 purse up for grabs, about 20 per cent of which goes to the winner.
While the strength of the field is inferior to previous years O'Malley and Parry, who have both won high-profile tournaments, said golfers had flocked to play in Queensland after their devastating floods to ensure top-level golf thrived in the area. They were determined to play in Christchurch for the same reasons.
It will be a huge boost to Christchurch to be hosting this year's NZ Open. The rugby season was low-key, and the closest that Christchurch gets to international cricket this season will be a warm-up T-20 match between South Africa and Canterbury at Hagley Oval in mid-February.
So the golfers descending on Clearwater this week will be most welcome. It's another sign that Christchurch is returning normality after a difficult year, and the money that players, caddies and visitors to the city spend on accomodation, food and entertainment (and taxis!) will help the local economy.
She Who Must Be Obeyed was in Christchurch at the weekend, and took the walk to Cathedral Square. As a Canterbury lass, she found it a surreal experience; the Christchurch she grew up in has gone, probably forever. She did though manage to fit in a visit to Ballantynes and to the Container City in Cashell Mall, and was impressed with what has been achieved in a relatively short time-frame. We'll be down there in a couple of weeks, and will be able to see things for ourselves.
In the meantime, we hope that the NZ Open is a great success on every level. Christchurch needs to have events to look forward to, and this week's tournament is another sign that the city is open for business as it rebuilds.
Follow the tournament here with live scoring