2018 PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS - announced so far...
ISPS Handa New Zealand Open Winner Michael Hendry returns to defend his title. In 2017 he became the first New Zealander in 14 years to win the Open title and after another outstanding year on the Japan Tour that included seven top-10 finishes including second in the Mizumo Open and T3 in the Mitsui Sumitoma Masters. He looks well placed to defend his title! He is currently 16 th on the Japan Order of Merit with earnings of NZ$670,000 this year.
Scott Hend was one of the first Australians to play his trade on the fledgling Asian Tour in 2007, and after 20 years as a professional, the 44-year-old is in the best form of his life. He topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016 and was fourth last year, winning twice on the European Tour, nine times in Asian and five times in Australia.
Noted as one of the biggest hitters in the game on the Japan Tour, he finished fifth on the Japan moneylist in 2017 with three wins and five top-10s, winning nearly NZ$1.65 million. This included an outstanding share of 11th at the Open Championship on debut, after earning his start courtesy of his victory in the Mizuno Open in Japan.
Global golfing luminary K J CHOI confirmed for #NZOpen99. With 20 professional wins worldwide, with eight wins on the PGA Tour including the 2011 Players Championship and over NZ$50 million in prizemoney in his illustrious career to date KJ Choi is arguably the highest profile foreign golfer to compete in the Open since Tiger Woods.
Marcus Fraser represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is a 6-time European Tour winner, having won NZ$11.7m in Europe since joining that tour in 2003. He also won his last ever amateur event in New Zealand, winning the 2002 NZ Amateur Championship before turning Professional immediately after that.
Fox, who was fifth best rookie on the European Tour with total earnings of nearly NZ$2m this year, played in 31 tournaments this year. The highlight was his three-week run where he placed sixth in the French Open and a share of fourth at the Irish and Scottish Opens.
With four PGA Tour of Austrasia titles to his name Steve Alker is no stranger to success. He returns home after a year of highs and lows on the PGA Tour with a firm focus on trying to lift the Brodie Breeze Trophy.
Now qualified for the Japan Golf Tour he jumped to #781 at the end of 2016 with five top-10s, and then zoomed to #85 on the rankings in 2017. His stellar year was highlighted with a win in the Casio World Open but he also finished runner-up three times and was third three times to finish fourth on the moneylist in Japan with NZ$1.4million.
Wilkinson, will venture home for the first time in over a decade to play in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open. He has won nearly NZ$7 million in his career, is excited by the tournament format. “I play quite well in this format and I enjoy getting to know people from different walks of life”.
Song was the highest ranked player at Queenstown in 2017, on the back of his victory over Jordan Speith in the Singapore Open. He remains inside the world’s best 100, earning approximately NZ$1 million in 2017, finishing 11th on the Japan Tour moneylist, and 19th on the Asian Tour as well.
Is best known for his victory in the 2009 US PGA Championship, beating Tiger Woods down the home stretch. This win remains the only time an Asian-born player has won one of golf’s four Majors. Yang has won twice on the USPGA Tour, three times on the European Tour, and another seven times in Asia.
Has won 11 times as a professional including the New Zealand Open at Clearwater in 2011 when he beat Craig Parry in a playoff, and the NZPGA Championship in 2016. He was also runner-up in the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in 2017.
The likeable Australian returned to the winners circle in Japan in 2016 with his win at the ANA Classic in Hokkaido. This marked his 14th victory in Japan, the most ever won by a non-Japanese player in that market. His comeback win was particularly satisfying, having come back from major wrist surgery in 2015.
Ranked 18th in Japan 2015 (winnings $740K), 26 year-old Kataoka is one of the rising stars in Japan - his win at the Kansai Open was hist first win on the Japan Tour - with many more expected to follow!
A regular visitor to Queenstown, is one of the outstanding players from the Japan Golf Tour to compete in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.