Ones to Watch at the New Zealand Open

Check out our Ones to Watch at the New Zealand Open in 2024.

With players from all over the world heading to Queenstown for the 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport, one of the toughest things to do is to pick a winner. The international field is evenly spread and would be no exaggeration to say that as many as half of the professionals entered have the ability to win the tournament come Sunday afternoon.

Brendan Jones, 2023 New Zealand Open Champion ©

Millbrook Resort is set to stage the iconic event teeing off on February 29 and 2024 Champion, Brendan Jones has been working hard to fine-tune his game in readiness for the defence of his title. A proven winner, with 19 professional titles to his name, Jones is a chance for a rare repeat win.

The Kiwi contingent will be led by PGA Tour Champions star Steve Alker, and Daniel Hillier, who is a top 30 player on the DP World Tour, is very strong this year. Despite the absence of Ryan Fox (curtailed by PGA Tour requirements), 2024 could well be the year of another local victory.

Queenstown’s Ben Campbell, whose game moved up a level in 2023, has twice been runner-up in the New Zealand Open, and the home course advantage for the popular local may well see him lead the charge.

Kazuma Kobori 2024 WEBEX Players Series Sydney 2024 © PGA of Australia

The real ‘form player’ right now is New Zealand youngster Kazuma Kobori, who has had an incredible three wins in his first 10 professional events. He was the leading amateur at the New Zealand Open in 2023, running T6 overall, and has now gained both the momentum and confidence that only winning can create.

Finally, a re-charged Mike Hendry, in recovery from his recent illness, has found success in Queenstown in the past having won three times in the region including the 2017 New Zealand Open, and has a strong chance of adding to his impressive resume.

David Micheluzzi © PGA Australia

From across the Tasman, young Australians David Micheluzzi, Anthony Quayle, Travis Smyth, and Todd Sinnott must all fancy their chances of lifting the Brodie Breeze trophy. Former two-time New Zealand Open Champion, Brad Kennedy loves playing in Queenstown and is another who cannot be counted out.

Asian Tour stars Taichi Kho and Jazz Jannewattananond will both be looking to start their years with a win while Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul has played well at Millbrook previously, with a T6 finish in 2023; he is a quality player more than capable of a win next week.

Finally, from Japan, the tournament welcomes a new generation of young stars, as the ‘old guard’ on the Japan Tour is slowly replaced by a number of top-quality players in their twenties, all looking to perform on the world stage.

Headlining from Japan are Kensei Hirata and Taichi Nabetani (both top 10 players on the 2023 Japan Tour Order Of Merit) are young stars who could well break through in Queenstown this year.

Keep an eye on Yuta Sugiura – the 22-year-old has recently turned professional having won (as an amateur) the prestigious Dunlop Phoenix event in Japan last year, in a field that included Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka – this boy can play!

Always difficult to pick a winner – but with the players mentioned above, along with former champions like Matthew Griffin and Jordan Zunic in the field also, the 103rd New Zealand Open is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested events in recent history.

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