High-flying golfers set to shake-up ISPS Handa New Zealand Open

Two high-flying stars are set to shake-up proceedings in next week’s ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown.

Left-handed American Paul Peterson has jumped nearly 300 places on the World Rankings to #122 on the back of victories on the European and Asian Tours.

 Paul Peterson has jumped nearly 300 places on the World Rankings to #122

 Meanwhile 22-year-old Australian Cameron Davis was ranked #1880 after turning professional 18 months ago. After an incredible victory in the Australian Open last year and follow-up strong showings, this super-talent is now at #180 on the official rankings.

Cameron Davis was ranked #1880 after turning professional 18 months ago

 They will form a powerful pairing for the $1.2 million New Zealand Open, co-sanctioned with the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, staged at Millbrook Resort and The Hills on 1-4 March.

Tournament Director Michael Glading said the approach from the pair is a further indication of the growing status of the tournament, especially with official sanctioning with the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour as well as the partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.

“Paul Peterson got his start on the Asian Tour and probably would not have entertained coming here if we were not part of the Asian Tour,” said Glading.

“Cameron Davis is one of the hottest young players in the game right now, so it is a thrill to have him here, particularly now that he is largely US-based.”

Glading said their confirmed entry helps counter the loss of Japan Tour players, KT Kim, Chan Kim and Steven Han, who have withdrawn from the event.

“Our tournament goes up against two very big world events and two of those players now have invites to those events, so it is understandable, while KT Kim has had to withdraw due to family reasons.

“It will always be a challenge when we are up against other big tournaments, but we are blessed with the support from the likes of Ryan Fox, who has now reached the world’s top 100, and the likes of both Paul and Cameron, who add substantial quality to our field.”

Peterson has not followed the usual well-trodden path for an American College golfing graduate. After struggling on the Canadian Tour, he made the decision to try his fortunes in Asia, with five top-four finishes in 2014 and six top-10s the following year.

Two of his best finishes were in events co-sanctioned with the European Tour, earning him the chance to compete there. He took it with both hands, winning the Czech Masters in 2016 which also gave him his European Tour card on top of his Asian Tour status.

Peterson’s change of fortune continued last year with a share of seventh at the Johannesburg Open and top-20 at the Scottish Open before a successful return to Asia. He finished in a share of second at the Indian and Hong Kong Opens, eighth at the Johannesburg Open leading to his recent victory in the Myanmar Open in February.

His world ranking was around #400 prior to his first win in Europe but the left-hander has continued to race up the rankings to his current best of #122.

“My win in Myanmar was very special, as the Asian Tour is where I started, and to be able to get a win there really meant a lot,” said Peterson.

“I had to make that transition from Asia to Europe and I was trying to play in as many events as I could. So it just felt right that I was finally able to have a win under my belt in Myanmar. I was confident of myself and I knew I had a chance to win. And I did”.

Davis was always destined for good things in the game, with an excellent amateur career that included the Australian Amateur title in 2015, the China Amateur, and runner-up in the Asia Pacific Amateur in 2016. He finished leading individual at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico in 2016, helping Australian to a crushing overall win.

His first year on the pro scene was in Canada in 2017 but his results were largely disappointing, until he returned home to score a remarkable victory in the Australian Open in November, in a field that included Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. He won by one shot from Swedish PGA Tour player Jonas Blixt and Australian Matt Jones on the back of a final round 64. His incredible performance was followed with a share of sixth at the Singapore Open, and then subsequently earned status on the Web.com Tour. He has already had two invites to tournaments on the PGA Tour this year, and has now opted to play in New Zealand.

Another Australian high flyer to confirm this week is Lucas Herbert, who is now #178 on the world rankings, also up over 1000 places in just over a year.

He was 20th in the Australian Open in 2016, followed by a top-10 at the ISPS Handa World Super 6. Last year he improved further with a superb run to be sixth at the Australian Open, seventh at the Australian PGA, eighth at the Singapore Open and third two weeks ago at the 2018 ISPS Handa World Super 6.

While his exploits have opened up opportunities in Tours around the globe, like Davis, he has opted to play in Queenstown.

The growing reputation of the Asian Tour means that the 30 players to earn starts in New Zealand are from 10 different countries, including eight from USA along with representatives from Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Korea, Japan, Scotland and England.

They include leading Order of Merit player Scott Hend (Australia), Philippines Open winner Berry Henson (USA), who is returning from surgery on both wrists and Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert who is a two-time Asian Tour winner.

Well-travelled Australian Marcus Fraser is a six-time winner on the European, Asian and Australasian tours while there will also be considerable interest in Thailand’s Poom Saksansin, a four-time winner on the Asian Tour who has now risen to #168 on the world rankings.


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