Twelve former champions, who have held the Brodie Breeze Trophy 19 times between them, will take part in the 100th New Zealand Open in Queenstown this week.
The NZ Open, sporting 152 players from 17 countries – in an event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour – will be staged at The Hills and Millbrook Resort starting on Thursday.
In addition, another three former champions with seven New Zealand Open titles between them will take part in the special Par 3 event at The Hills on Wednesday: four-time winner Sir Bob Charles, two-time champion Greg Turner and 2003 winner Mahal Pearce.
The New Zealand Open, first played at the Napier Golf Club in 1907, has also attracted a record three former Major champions in US PGA winner Y.E. Yang and US Open winners Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell, along with K.J. Choi, who won the ‘fifth Major’, the Players Championship.
“We are thrilled with the quality of the field this year,” says tournament director Michael Glading.
“Given the special significance of the 100th playing of the New Zealand Open, it is wonderful that so many past champions are taking part. It is an absolute thrill to have Sir Bob with us this week and of course so many players who have been wonderful supporters of this event for many years, like Peter O’Malley and Peter Fowler, both former champions.”
There are three former winners who held aloft the Brodie Breeze Trophy in the 1990s in Australian Fowler, who is a long-time resident in New Zealand and won the title in 1993. He is joined by fellow Australian O’Malley, the only person to win the New Zealand Amateur, New Zealand PGA and New Zealand Open titles, and West Australian-based Kiwi Michael Long, who won at Paraparaumu Beach in 1996.
Those who won the title in the first decade of the new millennium include Campbell, who prevailed at Paraparaumu Beach in 2000 after an exciting playoff with compatriot Craig Perks; David Smail, who went on to win two tournaments in two weeks after claiming the Open in 2001 at The Grange in Auckland; and the 2006 winner, Australian Nathan Green, in the co-sanctioned event with the European Tour at Gulf Harbour.
The past seven champions have all returned to compete: Australians Brad Kennedy, Jack Higginbottom (the last to win as an amateur, in 2012), Dimitrios Papadatos, Jordan Zunic, Matthew Griffin and defending champion Daniel Nisbet along with New Zealand’s Michael Hendry [pictured].