Australians set sights on New Zealand Open title

With Australian golfing legends Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Ian Baker-Finch, Rodger Davis, and more recently Brendan Jones on the list of past New Zealand Open champions, there is clear evidence that the New Zealand Open is a tournament that Australia’s top golfers love to play in and love to win.

The New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport is set to tee off at Millbrook Resort between February 29 and March 3 and Tournament Director Michael Glading is excited to see who from Australia steps up and challenges for the title this year.

“In recent years it has been the backbone of our tournament to have many of the top players from Australia head over and play in the New Zealand Open,” he said.

“There are some quality Australian players entered, many of whom are hitting form at the right time. In recent weeks the likes of Matt Griffin and Brett Coletta have won tournaments in Australia, and are clearly capable of winning our event.

“Another recent Australian tournament winner to watch is 2022-23 Challenger PGA of Australasia Order of Merit winner David Micheluzzi who had a solid top 20 finish in Queenstown last year.

“Micheluzzi now plays on the DP World Tour and his top 20 finish at the Bahrain Championship last weekend is proof that he has taken his game to the next level.

“I’d also keep an eye on the likes of Anthony Quayle, Travis Smyth and Todd Sinnott. All of these have the ability to use their previous experience at Millbrook to string together four rounds of world class golf.

Australian Travis Smyth in action the 2024 Vic Open ahead of playing at the New Zealand Open. – Credit: PGA Australia

“Travis is now firmly cemented as one of the top five players in Asia, while Anthony has had a fantastic year playing in Japan. Todd has won tournaments in Asia and Australia, and is yet another quality Australian player more than capable of winning our event.

“In addition to Matt Griffin, other former champions Brad Kennedy, Jordan Zunic, Zach Murray, Dimi Papadatos and, of course, current champion Brendan Jones will return.

“Each year we host them all at a pre-event Champions Dinner at Millbrook,  an evening that is so enjoyable hearing from these past winners and sharing their memories with us. I know they will all be hoping to recapture the magic that helped them claim their titles.”

Returning to Queenstown for his eighth New Zealand Open will be a little different for Brendan Jones, as this time he returns as the reigning champion, looking to defend a title that means a lot to him.

“Winning the New Zealand Open was one of the coolest things that has happened in my golfing career. To win such a great tournament in my favourite place in the world was really special,” Jones said.

“The New Zealand Open gets better year on year and I can’t wait to get back.”

Recent winner on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, Brett Coletta claimed the Vic Open on Sunday and has fond memories of playing the New Zealand Open.

“It was one of my first few pro events when I started out in 2017. I remember how well I got looked after by the people who run the show. The course, the whole town – it’s one of the best places I’ve ever been to on earth in the travels I’ve had. I find it as probably the best place we go all year,” said Coletta.

Australia’s Matthew Griffin after winning the 2016 New Zealand Open. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

2016 champion Matthew Griffin hasn’t missed a New Zealand Open since playing his first back in 2014 and is hoping to recapture his form in Queenstown.

“It’s always great to go back to a place where you’ve won. Queenstown is such a fabulous place and I love getting back there. Hopefully I can return to my old form.

“There’s a couple of restaurants I really enjoy, everyone loves Fergburger but my favourite thing is when you get out of the plane, walk down the steps and the fresh air hits you. You see The Remarkables and you feel relaxed as soon as you get there.”

For the latest news and to check out the current New Zealand Open field visit nzopen.com.

The 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport will take place at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown between February 29 and March 3, 2024.

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