After a two-year hiatus, the New Zealand Open returns to Millbrook Resort.
The 102nd edition of the New Zealand Open gets underway on Thursday, and is being played at the two championship golf courses at Millbrook Resort: the Remarkables Course and the Coronet Course.
22 different New Zealanders have their names on the Brodie Breeze Trophy, and another has an opportunity this week to etch their name alongside some of New Zealand’s golfing greats. Michael Hendry is the last Kiwi to put his name alongside some of New Zealand’s best, breaking a 14-year drought after Mahal Pearce won the NZ Open in 2003.
Here are ten Kiwis to keep your eye on over the week:
Steve Alker’s highly anticipated return to the New Zealand Open will have the country’s golfing eyes following his progress closely as he’s risen to superstardom on the PGA Tour Champions.
Since turning 50 in 2021, Alker has amassed an incredible NZD 7.5 million on the senior’s circuit, including a major victory at the Senior PGA Championship. 2022 was a year to remember for the 51-year-old, capturing the season-long Charles Schwab Cup following four victories and 19 top-10s in 24 starts. He won the Rapiscan Systems Classic, Insperity Invitational, Senior PGA Championship, and the Dimension Energy Charity Classic.
Due to Alker’s recent success, he will enter the 102nd New Zealand Open for the first time since 2019 as one of the heavy tournament favourites.
Daniel Hillier is one of New Zealand’s most promising professionals.
He’s no stranger to a New Zealand Open, playing in several of our national opens already and winning the Bledisloe Cup twice in 2016 and 2018. Since transitioning into the professional game in 2019, he’s worked his way onto the DP World Tour through the Challenge Tour, joining Ryan Fox as the only two Kiwis on the tour. The 24-year-old has won twice on the Challenge Tour, winning the Challenge Costa Brava in 2021 and the Swiss Challenge last year.
He’ll be looking to build on his New Zealand golfing success which includes two New Zealand Amateur titles and three Jennian Homes Charles Tour events at this year’s New Zealand Open.
Hendry is a man boasting some serious form entering this year’s New Zealand Open.
He recently won the Vic Open on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, his first victory since the 2017 New Zealand Open where he was the first New Zealander to win our national open since Mahal Pearce in 2003. The 43-year-old dominated the Vic Open at 13th Beach just a couple of weeks ago, finishing 21 under to win by four. He had an amazing 64 and 62 in the first two rounds to take a sizeable lead heading into the final two days, which he capitalised on with rounds of 69 and 72.
The North Harbour professional is the most successful male on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour with eight victories to his name.
Hendry has an outstanding playing record in the Queenstown region having won the NZ PGA Championship on two occasions at the Hills. He is definitely someone to watch.
A Queenstown local who has come agonisingly close to capturing the New Zealand Open previously will be one to look out for this week.
Campbell lost in a three-way playoff to Michael Hendry in 2017 and also fell short at the NZ PGA Championship at Manawatu Golf Club in a playoff. However, he bounced back the following year, winning the NZ PGA Championship by couple at the very same venue.
Since then, he’s battled several injuries but has returned to the Asian Tour this year and wants to win an event on a major tour.
He earned a start in the 150th Open Championship courtesy of a podium finish at the Vic Open.
Campbell is sure to have a great week.
Another golfer who is no stranger to performing on some of New Zealand’s biggest golfing stages.
Josh Geary finished runner-up to Zach Murray at the 100th New Zealand Open in 2019 and has finished runner-up at the NZ PGA Championship on three separate occasions. He’s a seven time Jennian Homes Charles Tour, one victory behind the all-time leader, Michael Hendry. He has recent success at Millbrook Resort, winning the Millbrook Classic last year which replaced the cancelled New Zealand Open.
Geary has played all over the world – Europe, USA, Australia, Asia, Canada. His experience playing on big tours and big stages will make him a threat this week. Watch out for him as he attempts to capture the elusive New Zealand Open title.
Harry Bateman loves the New Zealand Open and Queenstown.
He’s had two top 10 finishes in his last two outings at the event and held a share of the lead after the first round in 2020. He finished in a share of fifth and equal eighth in 2019.
Bateman comes into this year’s New Zealand Open also boasting some hot form, winning his second Jennian Homes Charles Tour event in Hastings earlier this year. He’s a perennial contender on the tour, so you can expect his name to be inside the top 10 at some point during the week.
Kerry Mountcastle earned his start in this year’s New Zealand Open courtesy of his finish on the NZPGA Order of Merit last year.
In 2023, he picked up right where he left off and leads the Order of Merit after 12 events. He’s won three times on the Pro-Am circuit and recorded two runner-up finishes. He’s only finished outside the top 10 once.
Mountcastle is a two-time Jennian Homes Charles Tour winner, winning the Carrus Tauranga Open and Brian Green Property Group NZ Super 6’s as an amateur. He turned professional just after his second victory on the tour in 2021.
James Hydes is one of New Zealand’s newest professionals, joining the pro ranks two weeks ago in time for the New Zealand Open.
The 23-year-old is used to performing at a high level and boasts a large trophy cabinet that he’ll be looking to add to as a professional. He is already the proud owner of a trophy from a professional win, capturing the 2020 Autex Muriwai Open on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour. He also owns a national title – the 2020 New Zealand Amateur, and an international title – the 2021 Welsh Open Stroke Play, as well as several amateur victories. He also represented New Zealand at the Eisenhower Trophy and Nomura Cup.
He made his professional debut at the Brian Green Property Group NZ Super 6’s a couple of weeks ago, finishing in a tie for sixth during the stroke play and losing in the second round of the Super 6s.
Kazuma Kobori has achieved a lot in his amateur career thus far.
He’s already a winner on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, winning the 2019 SEC NZPGA Championship as a 17-year-old which catapulted him into the golfing headlines. He’s since become a consistent contender in performances golf events in New Zealand, and has had another professional victory, the 2022 Autex Muriwai Open on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour.
However, his success isn’t limited to just New Zealand’s shores. To tee off 2023, he won the Australian Amateur at NSW Golf Club, proving his golfing pedigree on the international stage. A proven performer under the lights, Kobori is another Kiwi to watch closely as the week progresses.
Kyle Maihi earned his place in the New Zealand Open field after a mammoth week show casing golf to New Zealand indigenous people and their whanau and hoa. Maihi, who plays his golf at Royal Auckland and Grange, won both the match play and stroke play titles to book his place in our national open.
He’s an Auckland representative and went to Long Island University in the US. He’ll use his experience playing in college events to help him in his New Zealand Open debut.