Golf: Cast of misfits, battlers turn out for NZ Open's 'last chance saloon'

The field for this week's New Zealand Golf Open has been locked in, after a 'last chance saloon' qualifying event.

Thirty-seven golfers assembled at Cromwell Golf Club to battle for the very last spot in the tournament. You weren't going to find the next Tiger Woods, but there were plenty of characters among the contenders.

"A lot of us all out here are battlers, but to pinch that spot would be a dream come true, to be honest," said Sam McGill.

Golf: Cast of misfits, battlers turn out for NZ Open's 'last chance saloon'

Hopefuls from all walks could be found in the field, including stars of the future like Christchurch's Cooper Moore, who's just 15.

"I guess this is what I've built up for in the last month, so to make that spot would be unreal."

For many the NZ Open is a targeted event, but others are more casual about it.

"You know, for someone that doesn't really practice during the week, getting that spot would be the icing on the cake," added McGill.

At the top of the leaderboard early was Ryan Chisnall. He's played seven NZ Opens, but is returning to tournament golf after a year away from the game.

"It's obviously the best week of the year for us," said Chisnall. "We've grown up watching the NZ Open on our TVs ever since we were kids.

"To win the Open is obviously a dream if every young fella, so I think getting there is pretty important."

Despite being the clubhouse leader, Chisnell was eventually gunned down by young Japanese amateur Rinkaro Nakano. 

Away from his parents back home, it was a journey for Nakano just getting to the course, travelling seven hours by bus from Christchurch to compete. 

With no initial plans of qualifying for the Open, Nakano is now on the search for a bus to Queenstown for Thursday's opening round.