The 101st New Zealand Open looks set to provide some of the best golf seen for some time and the organisers must be over the moon with the quality of player that has decided to make Queenstown their destination in the event that begins today.
Along with the prize money, purse growing to $1.45 million and the announcement of free entry for all that wish to attend, the flow of player announcements every week has not only kept the tournament front and centre but also shown the work that Michael Glading and the team have done to get the best players possible here.
News that Asia’s most successful golfer, KJ Choi would return for his third straight year opened the flood gates as that was closely followed by Hong Kong Open winner Wade Ormsby signing on and bringing with him the usual pack of Aussies.
Australians have won the open 42 times including last years winner Zach Murray who will be back along with a group of previous winners Daniel Nisbet (2018), Jordan Zunic (2015), Dimi Papadatos (2014), Jake Higginbottom (2012), Brad Kennedy (2011), Peter O’Malley (1995) and Peter Fowler (1993).
Added to that are a group of Australians recent European Tour winner Lucas Herbert along with Brendan Jones, Josh Younger and Andrew Dodt who were all tournament winners in 2019 and Tournament Director Glading couldn’t have been happier.
“Our relationship with Australia goes back for most of the 100 years that this Open has been played and they continue to support this event with good grace, as well as being highly competitive,” said Tournament Director, Michael Glading.
Then recently to top it off, American number 72 Chan Kim said he was on his way down under along with a bunch of his fellow pros from the Japan Tour including 10 players ranked in the top-20 on the 2019 Japan Tour Order of Merit.
All that makes it a superb event for our local players to gain some great experience, but also we have many live chances this year for us to support either on course or at home via Sky Sport.
Leading the way is inform Ryan Fox, coming off a stunning second in the Vic Open and many have the feeling this could be his tournament before heading back to Europe.
Mike Hendry may not have had the best 2019 but his finish to the year with a second in the Australian PGA surely will have plenty hoping he can again raise the Brodie Breeze Trophy.
And then there’s the pack of young guns starting to poke their heads up like Denzel Ieremia who had a great December, Nick Voke and Daniel Hillier are thereabouts while Josh Geary and Campbell Rawson both have big chances.
Without forgetting everyone’s favourite Luke Toomey who may not have the ranking yet, but has had a stellar six months and could make this his breakthrough tournament or Mark Brown who recently took out The Hills Pro-am against a strong Kiwi contingent and knows the course back to front.