2017 Professional Players
Here are some of the players to tee off in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open. Stay tuned for further announcements.
Won the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in 2016, in a nail-biting finish, edging out Japan star Hideto Tanihara with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Matt now plies his trade on the Japan Tour, having won previously in Australia and three times in Korea on the Oneasia Tour, where he was leading money winner in 2013. His win here in 2016 assisted him in finishing #1 on the Australasian Order of Merit, gaining him a start in both the British Open and two of the lucrative WGC events in 2017.
Highest ranked player in the field with a world ranking of #78, Song is one of the new breed of world-class South Korean players taking the world by storm. Thus 25-year old had his first major win at the Singapore Open in 2016, beating Jordan Spieth by 1 stroke. He nearly repeated that win in 2017, finishing 2nd. He ran 4th on the Japanese money list in 2016, and comes in to the event as one of the favourites.
Has had the year of his life, winning the Northern Irish Open and gaining his card for the full European Tour in 2017. Ryan finished the year in style with top ten finishes in both the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship. Overall his 2016 winnings were over NZ$360,000 and his world ranking has now climbed to a career-high of 127.
Another player coming off a best-ever year, with 2016 Japan Tour winnings of just under NZ$700,000 as well as a further NZ$230,000 in finishing 2nd on the Australasian Order of Merit. Overall Hendry had 8 top 10 finishes in 2016, and comes to the 2017 ISPS Handa as one of the favourites, having previously won the NZPGA Championship twice at the Hills.
Best known for his victory in the 2009 US PGA Championship, beating Tiger Woods down the home stretch. This win remains the only time an Asian-born player has won one of golf’s 4 majors. Overall YE has won twice on the USPGA Tour, 3 times on the European Tour, and another 7 times in Asia. Yang learnt his craft in Auckland when starting out in his career, so his entry this year marks a welcome return for a player now known all over the world.
With seven professional wins including four on the PGA Tour, he qualified for the first six FEDEx Cup playoffs in a row. He finished runner-up in the World Cup with Boo Weekley representing USA in 2007, and was a regular contender for many years on the PGA tour.
This talented Australian returns from the web.com tour where he has 2 career wins. Age 31, he is one of the most talented players in the field, holding the Guinness World record for the lowest round ever - a 55 (16 under par) at the River Oaks GC in Oklahoma! Played USPGA tour in 2016 but has returned to web.com tour in 2017
After an unsuccessful year on the web.com tour in 2015, Ash returned to live in his native Australia, and within a year had notched a win in the Victorian PGA Championship at the start of 2016. Ash then finished the year in splendid form, narrowly missing out in a play-off with Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Australian Open. This was followed by an impressive 4th place in the Australian PGA Championship a week later – pushing him to #3 on the year-end Australasian Tour Order of Merit. His runner-up finish in the Australian Open has won him a start in the 2017 British Open.
The popular Miyazato returns for his third visit to New Zealand. In 2015 Miyazato finished 2nd on the Japanese Order of Merit, winning NZ$1.4m. In 2016 he suffered an early season loss of form, before coming back strongly in the second half of the year, finishing just outside the top 30 with winnings of over NZ$400,000
One of the young up and coming players from Japan, Sonoda ran a close 3rd here in 2016, and comes back to NZ off the back of another successful year in Japan, where his career earnings have already reached NZ$3.2m
Muto will be playing in new Zealand for the 5th consecutive year – more than any other Japanese player! 2016 was another hugely successful year for Muto, with winnings of over NZ$617000, taking his career winnings to over NZ$7m with 6 career victories.
The 2011 NZ Open winner at Clearwater also won the NZ PGA Championship in Auckland in 2016. Brad is an incredibly consistent player, winning $670,000 in Japan in 2016, placing him 11th on their money list.
The likeable Australian returned to the winners circle in Japn last year with his win at the ANA Classic in Hokkaido. This marked his 14th victory in Japan, the most ever won by a non-Japanese player in that market. His comeback win was particularly satisfying, having come back from major wrist surgery in 2015.
The popular ‘IJ’ as he is known, returns for his 3rd visit, after a somewhat disappointing year in 2016. He is a quality player who has won 3 times in Japan, with career earnings of over NZ$4.7m.
Although Hyung-Sung failed to add to his 4 previous wins in Japan this year, the impressive Korean finished in the top 30 of the money list, taking his Japan career winnings past NZ$5.5m.
Josh spent all of 2016 playing on the web.com tour in the USA, but unfortunately suffered a loss of form, and subsequently lost his tour card. With some recent swing changes and renewed focus Josh plans to return to Asia in 2017, and will no doubt be using the two premier New Zealand tournaments to kick-start his year.
A surprise New Zealand Open winner in 2015, Zunic subsequently struggled to live up to his early promise; however 2016 has seen steady progress from the impressive young Australian, as he looks to fulfill his early promise.
As an amateur Jake won the 2012 NZ Open and was seen as ‘the next big thing’. Sadly he failed to live up to that early promise, but has recently finally shown a return to form, having finished top 10 in two events in 2016 (Fiji and NSW) and top 20 at the Australian Open.
The left-handed Australian failed to live up to the promise he showed on the Japan Tour in 2015, when he won his first event there. That's said, he comfortably retained his card, and being the quality player he is, is sure to return stronger than ever in 2017.
A ‘late-bloomer,’ this likeable Australian won the NZ PGA Championship in 2015, and remains one of the most consistent player s in Australasia, once again finishing in the top on the 2016 Order of Merit.
A player good enough to have won four European Tour titles and finish runner-up to Jim Furyk at the 2003 US Open. Leaney, a former Presidents Cup team member, suffered from vertigo in the latter stages of his PGA Tour career but in recent times there have been glimpses of his earlier form.
The only player to have the New Zealand Amateur, New Zealand Open and the NZPGA Championship titles to his name, O’Malley is a great friend and supporter or New Zealand golf. Having secured 3 wins in a long career on the European Tour, O’Malley’s experience is expected to serve him well again this year.
Former New Zealand Open champion, Cromwell born Michael Long is a local favorite. In a career that has seen him collect 6 professional wins across multiple tours and represent New Zealand at the World Cup of golf. Long has previously held a world ranking inside the top 100.
Brown, a two-time European Tour winner, was runner-up to Dimi Papadatos in this event in 2014 and has played the Hills well on other occasions also.
2014 was his first full year on the Japan Golf Tour where he finished #10 in Japan Tour money-list with earnings of NZ$730,000. Won the Japan Golf Tour Championship in 2014, his maiden tour victory. In 2013 secured one win on the Japan Challenge tour before being earning promotion to the main tour.
The 45-year old Smail has won an amazing NZ$9.6m in Japan, including 5 tournament victories. He won the New Zealand Open in 2001.
An unexpected but impressive winner in 2014 but has battled for much of the time since. There are encouraging signs of late for the NSW golfer however and he might yet surprise once again.
Exceptionally talented West Australian whose brilliant career has been interrupted by injury. Lead Web.Com Tour money list in 2009 with three wins and graduated to the PGA Tour in 2010 before injury issues plagued him. Won 2005 NZ Strokeplay Championship by eleven shots. Recent results suggest a successful comeback is developing.
Scott will enjoy full playing status for the 14th straight season in 2016 Asian Tour. 2005 was Scott’s career season to date. The Aussie savoured a second place finish in the Okinawa Open and Thailand Open, where he lost in a play-off to Kiwi Richard Lee.
With commendable 2014 season on the Asian Development Tour, he finished fifth on the final Order of Merit, thanks to one victory and seven top-10s, to earn his Asian Tour card for the 2015 season.
Notched two top-10s at the Solaire Open in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open Japan to hold on to his Asian Tour card. Rated as one of Thailand’s rising stars.
He claimed an emotional first Asian Tour title at the 2014 Mercuries Taiwan Masters and immediately dedicated the win to his late father, who died earlier in the year.
Winning the 2011 Integral Collection Classic (Europro Tour), Dodge finished tied second at the 2012 Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage to earn an Asian Tour card. In the same year, he posted two top-25s at the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic and Venetian Macau Open.