Golf: Nerves for cricketing greats ahead of NZ Open

Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming swap one white ball for another. Photo / Vaughan Brookfield
Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming swap one white ball for another. Photo / Vaughan Brookfield

Admitting to "a few nerves" and with easy banter at the ready, NZ cricketers Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming were in unfamiliar territory today, lining up for a practice round at The Hills golf course in Queenstown.

Hedging around how much golf practice they'd been getting in in the build up to this week's ANZ Celebrity Challenge - part of the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open - the pair are looking forward to tournament week, albeit with some trepidation.

"No matter what I've done in my cricket career, I know it won't be as nerve wracking as the first tee on the first day," said the newly-retired McCullum.

While it's McCullum's first time playing in the tournament, which runs from March 10 to 13, for Fleming it's more familiar territory.

"They're all great courses down here although I do prefer the ones with straight fairways," he joked.

"I just worry for Brendon really when they pick apart his swing, and they're right beside him. And I haven't put in as much preparation as I'd like because my family only wants me to do one round a week."

And McCullum? "To be fair I've got a swing which is never to be repeated but I'm hoping for the best."

With that the pair head off with Ryan Fox, one of the country's best golfers, for some much needed practice.

ANZ Celebrity Challenge

The ANZ Celebrity Challenge will be played concurrently with the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, seeing a 4-man Australian celebrity team (captained by Allan Border) go head to head in match-play against the 4-man New Zealand celebrity team (captained by Stephen Fleming).

The ANZ Celebrity Challenge will be played over all four days of the tournament (March 10 to 13) across Millbrook, The Hills and Jack's Point golf courses.

In total, the eight players will play 16 matches to compete for the ANZ Celebrity Challenge team event between the two countries.

In the New Zealand line-up are Fleming, McCullum, former AB Justin Marshall and actor Shane Cortese, while Australia fields Allan Border as captain, former cricketer Ricky Ponting, actor and comedian Glenn Robbins and former New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary, all playing as amateur golfers in a 'team versus team' format.

- NZ Herald

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