Announcing the full line-up, players from Sweden, South Africa, Korea and Northern Ireland will join ‘local’ players from Australia and New Zealand in addition to 26 leading players from the world’s third-largest golf tour, the Japan Golf Tour.
Players announced today for the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open (March 10 to 13) include two-time US PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra, young South African star Dylan Frittelli and promising young Irishman Cormac Sharvin.
Former US PGA Tour player Tjaart van der Walt (South Africa) will also join an impressive list of Kiwi and Australian professionals which include Steve Alker, Ryan Fox, Mike Hendry, Josh Geary, Michael Long, Adam Bland, Matthew Millar, Scott Strange, Brendan Jones, as well as recent New Zealand Open winners, Jordan Zunic, Dimi Papadatos, Jake Higginbottom, Brad Kennedy and Nathan Green.
In form Australian players include recent winners on the PGA Tour of Australasia schedule, Ashley Hall, David Bransdon, Ben Eccles, Jarryd Felton, Michael Long and Daniel Fox.
The depth of players teeing up for this year’s event is being touted as “the strongest in years.”
Twenty-five-year-old Dylan Frittelli recently featured on New Zealand screens when he was beaten in a play-off for the 2015 Australia PGA Championship at Royal Pines in December. He excelled as a junior, was Jordan Speith’s University teammate in the US and turned pro mid-2012. Since turning professional he has already won twice, once on the Sunshine Tour and once on the European Challenge Tour.
Chopra, a native Swede, played the European Tour from 1996 to 2002 before joining the US PGA Tour in 2004, winning in 2007 and again in 2008. He’s currently plying his trade on the Asian tour, and is “thrilled” to be returning to a country that he loves to visit from time to time.
Hailing from Northern Ireland, Cormac Sharvin, 23, is just starting his professional career, having recently starred in the European Walker Cup victory over the USA, winning all three of his matches. His natural talent is evidenced by the fact that he only started playing the game aged 15, reaching scratch handicap level within 18 months.
He’s won the Irish Amateur as well as the prized Brabazon Trophy in the UK, before Walker Cup selection in 2015.
South African Tjaart van der Walt plays in New Zealand for the first time. He’s recorded an array of runner-up finishes across the globe, but only won his first professional event (the 2013 Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on the Sunshine Tour) in 2013, seventeen years after turning pro.
“The range of professionals in contention this year includes everything from seasoned players with numerous wins to their name, to some of the most exciting, up-and-coming and ‘hungry’ young golfers with everything to win and nothing to lose,” says Tournament Director Michael Glading.
“It’s great to have youngsters like Frittelli and Sharvin come to New Zealand at the start of their careers, a perfect time for the New Zealand public to see some of the stars of the future.
“In addition, having such renowned players as Chopra and Van der Walt, who’ve both played regularly on the US PGA Tour, is a real bonus. And let's not forget the quality of players we have from ‘down under’ and of course Japan and Korea, where we have a large number of players more than capable of winning this tournament.”
Auckland golf fans will be thrilled to know that Frittelli, Van der Walt and Chopra will also be playing in the NZPGA Championship March 3 to 6.
The BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour. The 2016 event will be played from March 10 to March 13 at two iconic Queenstown courses, The Hills and Millbrook Resort.
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