US Open winners Michael Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy have confirmed their start, along with the remarkable KJ Choi, who won The Players Championship, who will also return for a third straight year.
The 101st New Zealand Open, which has attracted 156 professionals from 18 countries, will be staged at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from 27 February to 1 March.
Campbell, who headed Tiger Woods by two shots at Pinehurst in 2005 to secure a place in golfing history, returned to the game last year and to the 100th New Zealand Open.
The 2000 New Zealand Open champion has joined the European Seniors Staysure Tour, with the best performance a share of second place in the PGA Seniors Championship last year.
With a year of more regular competition under his belt, Campbell has returned to Millbrook Resort, from his base in Spain, and will undoubtedly be a little more ‘match fit’ than he was a year ago.
Tournament Director Michael Glading welcomed the return of former New Zealand Open winner Campbell, recognising the large part that Manuka Doctor has played in making this happen.
“Manuka Doctor are a significant sponsor of the New Zealand Open, and also give great support to Michael, so for us, this is a match made in heaven. We are just delighted to have Michael return to play in our event again” said Glading.
Geoff Ogilvy, who won 12 times as a professional including eight on the PGA Tour, and claimed the US Open crown in 2006, reaching #4 in the world rankings.
While he played in the New Zealand Open as a young professional, he ventured back last year for his first-ever visit to Queenstown after closing a long chapter of golfing life-based in the US to return with his family to Melbourne.
He has spent much of the year settling his family into life in Australia, taking up the cudgels as an assistant to Ernie Els for the Presidents Cup and playing fleetingly.
But he saw enough of the golf courses at Millbrook Resort and The Hills, and the spectacular surrounds of Queenstown to return.
“I had a really good time last year and am really looking forward to coming back,” said Ogilvy.
Choi, Asia’s most successful golfer, is returning to the New Zealand Open for a third straight year and will reunite with Ogilvy, with the pair both serving as assistants in the Presidents Cup.
He has won 29 times over 25 years as a professional and claimed a top-20 finish last year.
“I have greatly enjoyed my last two visits to the New Zealand Open and I cannot say enough about the presentation of the courses at Millbrook Resort and The Hills,” said Choi.
“I played quite well last year, and I feel if my game is at its best then I can be very competitive at Millbrook Resort, which will be the host course this time.”
The 101st New Zealand Open, who carries a prize purse of $1.4million, is a co-sanctioned event with the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.