|Lydia Ko and Trade Me winner Jason Rowling
Jason Rowling’s wife Sharlene spent $7500 for the chance for him to play with World No.4 Lydia Ko in the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open Pro-am and the Tauranga golfer said it was worth every cent.
Rowling, who owns a retirement home with his wife, loves his golf and plays off a 9.9 handicap.
He was pleasantly surprised when his wife won the Trade Me auction to play alongside the defending champion and the hottest young player in the game at the Clearwater Golf Club.
“She wouldn’t tell me how much she paid for it,” said the Tauranga Golf Club member.
“I kept asking her but she wouldn’t tell me. I was totally blown away by the prize and to play with Lydia on a course like this was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.
“We are going to Melbourne soon for a trip so I think she might get me back in the shopping she does over there.”
To add to the experience in Christchurch Rowling, who had his brother caddying for him, was surprised again when his wife and his two boys turned up after six holes to watch them to play.
“That was really cool that they flew down to be part of it. It was really special to have the family down. My golf wasn’t the best but it didn’t matter it was really just a special experience to see how the professionals do it.”
He said he was pretty nervous to play with the two-time Canadian Open Champion.
“There were a lot of nerves standing on the first tee but I hit mine down the middle of the fairway and she hit hers into the flax so that helped settle the nerves a bit.”
Rowling said that Ko was even more impressive in person than she comes across in the media.
“She is really personable and very easy to get on with. She asked a lot of questions about us and when the professional has a great attitude like that it only adds to the day.”
It was a long day for the tournament favourite and all the other players in the afternoon field with the round taking over five hours to complete.
Ko was not at her best in her only look at the championship course before tomorrow’s opening round at 8:05am.
“Let’s just say that tomorrow is another day,” she said with her trademark giggle of her round that included some birdies but also a couple of wayward shots in the wind.
Ko said she was humbled but also not too surprised that a golfer would pay that amount of money to play a game of golf with her.
“No not really I guess,” she said at her press conference.
“It is quite cool to see that. But I guess to play with Tiger Woods you pay like $1million. But it is cool to see that sort of stuff to see how much people are willing to pay to be around you or play golf with you.”
All proceeds from the auction will go towards the Dr. Handa Fellowship in International Studies (University of Canterbury) – the Official Charity of the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open.
The Fellowship was established to enable scholarly exchange and cooperation between New Zealand and Japan in the area of Japanese Studies.
The Fellowship also enables collaborative and comparative research opportunities and contribution to teaching at either undergraduate or postgraduate levels.