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Craig Perks named NZ Sportsman of the Year

Craig Perks, the winner of the 2002 Players Championship, today was named the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in voting by panelists of the Halberg Trust.

Perks became the first representative of golf to win the award since the 1992 Eisenhower Cup team and outpolled the captain of the New Zealand All Blacks basketball team and stars from cricket and rugby leagues.

"It's an honor just to be put on the stage alongside these nominees," said Perks. "I'm extremely proud to have golf back in this position after 11 years and it's an incredible thrill to be Sportsman of the Year."

Perks made his remarks at 1:15 a.m. Thursday via satellite from a studio in Los Angeles to a black-tie gathering of 1,300 in Auckland. That was 11 hours before his first-round tee time in the Nissan Open .

"I left New Zealand at a very young age and my dream was not only to play and compete on the PGA Tour but to win," said Perks. "That dream came true on Sunday at The Players. To represent New Zealand on the world stage is something I can never forget."

Perks joined the PGA Tour in 2000 and last year joined Jack Nicklaus and Hal Sutton as the only men to win The Payers Championship in their first appearance. He did that with an eagle chip on No. 16 Sunday, followed by a birdie putt on the 17th and a par-saving chip on No. 18 for a two-stroke victory.

"Just to be recognized, for people to know a New Zealander is having success on the greatest stage, the PGA Tour, is very heartwarming," said Perks.


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