Finishing second overall in the 2023 Charles Schwab Championship standings for the PGA Tour Champions, in which he picked up another two victories, Steven Alker will return home for the 2024 New Zealand Open.Having played in many New Zealand Opens since the start of his career, Alker is hoping to claim the one victory that would mean the most to him, his national crown.
“The reception and support the fans gave me when I played at Millbrook last year was unreal. It was quite unexpected, and really amazing to have so much support, something I won’t forget,” said Alker.
“It’s the one tournament we all want to win. Of course there are the Majors and the big titles internationally, but there’s something special about having your name on your national title. It’s one of my goals for 2024.”
Another player making his mark on the world stage is Daniel Hillier. He has just completed his first year on the DP World Tour racking up four top-ten finishes including a memorable win at the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry, finishing 30th on the overall DP World Tour Order of Merit for 2023, and earning the prestigious Challenge Tour ‘Graduate of the Year’ crown.
“I’m really looking forward to coming home and seeing not only the family, but some friendly faces in the crowd. It’s quite a buzz when you rock up to the first tee and recognise all of the home support,” said Hillier.
“The New Zealand Open is always a great event in Queenstown, and I know there are lots of talented Kiwi golfers trying to get their hands on the title. Hopefully I can peak at the right time.”
After his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Hong Kong Open, Queenstown’s Ben Campbell will return to his hometown to have another ‘run’ at the New Zealand Open. Campbell’s victory late last year saw him take on former world number one Cam Smith, winning by just one shot with the last putt of the tournament.
“We’re thrilled to have Ben return to Queenstown. He’s always been a great supporter of the tournament and we were delighted to see him pick up a well-deserved victory at the Hong Kong Open,” said Tournament Director Michael Glading.
“Ben has always had the goods to make it on the world stage, and we’re now seeing the fruits of his labour. He finished runner-up at the 2023 New Zealand Open, and let’s not forget his fantastic performance leading into the play-off back in 2017 when Michael Hendry won.”
Speaking about his love affair with the New Zealand Open, Campbell has always wanted to have his name on the Brodie Breeze Trophy. Having come close twice, he’s hoping its third time lucky.
“Since I started playing golf and made it my career, I’ve always had the goal of winning the New Zealand Open. To have my name alongside some of the greats of golf in this country would be the highlight of my career,” he said.
“Absolutely I am coming back to Queenstown. I got close in 2017, and again last year, so here’s hoping I can lift the trophy in March.”
New Zealand’s Number One ranked player Ryan Fox is still finalising his 2024 playing schedule, which means his entry cannot be confirmed at this time.
“This year is my big chance in terms of attempting to retain my PGA tour card, and that could compromise my ability to play in this year’s New Zealand Open,” said Fox. “Notwithstanding this, I will do all that I can to play in the New Zealand Open, as it is one of my favourite tournaments of the year.
“I admire how the organisers have grown such a quality event on our own shores.”
Golf enthusiasts can watch the 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport between February 29 and March 3 at Millbrook Resort or via the live broadcast on Sky Sport 6.