Jones arrived today with most of the Japanese players for the 99th New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort and The Hills starting on Thursday, with the tournament co-sanctioned by the ISPS Handa PGA of Australasia and the Asian Tour with a partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.
The Japan Tour players competing this week feature eight of the top-30 from last year’s Tour moneylist, with the group having won more than $NZ9 million on the Japan Tour in 2017. They have collectively won over 50 professional tournaments and over NZ$75 million in career earnings between them on the Japan Tour.
Jones has won 14 times in Japan and is the only non-Japanese player in the top-20 all-time moneylist on the Tour.
"The field here is almost like a Japan Tour list. The field is getting stronger and stronger each year. The guys who come down tell their mates how good it is here and how wonderful the golf courses are, and more and more are wanting to come," said Jones.
"A Japanese player will win the New Zealand Open, perhaps this week. Players like Matt Griffin and Michael Hendry have won this event and play in Japan but we will get a Japanese player win it.’
Australian Brendan Jones, believes the Japanese contingent have all the credentials to win the ISPAS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown this week.
Jones said because the leading Japanese players, in the main, do not venture to the PGA, they are not as well known.
"The top players in Japan are world class. A lot do not speak much English and so are happy to remain playing in Japan. But believe me they can play really well.
"The top guys are making a fortune in prizemoney and endorsements. Some of them are starting to make it into the top 50 in the world without leaving Japan, and that gets then entry to the Majors and the World Golf events."
Jones, a long-time supporter of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, would like to see the event ultimately tri-sanctioned with Japan.
"The Asian Tour is on board this year which is great and has attracted some good players from that Tour. I would love this event to also be part of the Japan Tour. I don’t see why not because it is one of the best events we play all year.
"The ideal would be to have another tournament in Australia or Asia that they could come down this way for a couple of weeks. It is hard just coming that way for one tournament."
While Jones is working his way into his year, with golf in Japan not starting until April, he says he could well feature on the final day.
"Four good days and I could walk away as the New Zealand Open champ. If not, then it is the most beautiful place in the world. If you can’t enjoy yourself playing golf on excellent courses in this place, then there’s something wrong with you."
Tomorrow 91 players will compete in final qualifying at Paraparaumu Beach and Cromwell golf courses with six moving into the final field for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.