Jet boats, rally driving and throwing knives hardly sounds like the perfect preparation for a golf tournament.
But when you’re in Queenstown – a hub for adrenaline junkies – Canberra golfer Brendan Jones says it’s the only way to embrace the build-up for the New Zealand Open.
Jones rubbed shoulders with sporting royalty, including Ricky Ponting, Allan Border, Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum and Andrew Mehrtens before teeing off at the Hills Golf Club and Millbrook Resort on Thursday.
The unique warm up has got Jones’ blood pumping for a potential victory to kick-start his year.
“It was an incredible experience … just a few celebrities hanging out and doing extreme stuff – it was fantastic,” Jones said.
“We got a helicopter from Millbrook straight out to this property at Oxbow and everything there is set up for extreme adventures.
“We were in the only four-seat boat in the world that can do this course and it goes from 0-100 in two seconds. It’s just stuff you do in New Zealand, it’s a beautiful part of the world.
“It is different, but everything about this week is different. Playing with amateurs in the tournament is different … and honestly you are in the most picturesque part of the world. It just feels fun and different to what we do every other week of the year.”
Jones and fellow Canberran Matt Millar will play in the tournament over the next four days.
The field mixes professionals with some amateur sporting icons. Sir Ian Botham and former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Christian Cullen will also join the field.
Millar finished in a tie for 12th at 14 under-par at the New Zealand PGA championship last week, with Jones four shots back at 10 under-par.
“I’m playing really well right now so I’m looking forward to a good week,” Jones said.
“There’s no reason why I can’t win it. My form is getting better and better and I’m feeling really good about the year ahead.
“This is the start of my year … I played nice last week without being fantastic. I’ve had a few more rounds and I feel like my game is really good at the moment.”
Gold Creek Country Club professional Millar is coming off the back of the most successful year of his career.
He cashed in on his good form to secure 11 top-10 finishes and had a chance to claim the Australian Masters title in Melbourne.
“I’m feeling good … I haven’t played badly but just got punished for some errors and not making putts. I feel like it’s been a pretty good start to the year,” Millar said.
“It would just be nice to get off to a good start over the next two days to set things up.”
Jones feels he can get his career back on track this year after dealing with personal issues while on tour last season.
Jones’ mum Margaret was diagnosed with cancer last year, but is now in remission.
The tournament in Queenstown is a perfect place to begin his year and a bid to add to his 13 titles on the Japan Tour.
“I’m here with a lot of friends that I’ve made over the years, so for me I’m just really relaxed and feel happy and I want to get out and play,” Jones said.
“At times you don’t feel like that for most of the year. It was star spotting left, right and centre [on Tuesday]. It’s amazing to be hanging out with these guys. I was at a barbecue with four former Test cricket captains and then throw in all the past All Blacks. It’s great to be a part of.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.