Eight former champions have confirmed they will play in the
New Zealand Open this week.
Four Australian winners - Jake Higginbottom, Craig Parry,
Peter O'Malley and Peter Fowler - will be in the field
alongside four former Kiwi champions - David Smail, Mahal
Pearce, Michael Long and Greg Turner - for the event, to be
held from Thursday to Sunday.
The Open has a purse of $900,000 and will be co-hosted by The
Hills and Millbrook.
The eight former champions are all looking forward to again
playing in the event in which they had won the Brodie Breeze
Parry won the 2002 New Zealand Open at the Paraparaumu Beach
Golf Club, the event in which Tiger Woods played.
The 48-year-old pro from New South Wales, who was runner-up
to Brad Kennedy in 2011, said he would support the New
Zealand Open whenever possible.
''Winning the New Zealand Open changed my life,'' Parry said.
''With Tiger playing in the field, whoever won that event got
an invite to the World Golf Championship event. Then I
happened to win that ... and that put me on the Tour for
another few years and it followed up with another win at
''So I am forever in debt to the New Zealand Open to have
another few years on the PGA Tour. If you are talking about
money, those two wins earned me probably $3 million.''
The NZ Open had a similar impact on the most recent winner,
He made history in 2012 when he won at the Clearwater Golf
Club to become the first amateur to win the title since
compatriot Harry Berwick in 1956.
''Winning the NZ Open definitely changed my career,'' the
defending champion said.
''I wasn't thinking about turning pro but that win changed
that with the exemptions it offered me.
''It also gave me a huge amount of confidence that I was
that I could compete with really good players.''
O'Malley holds a special place in the annals of New Zealand
He claimed the NZ Open in 1995 at The Grange and is the only
player to have won the NZ Open, NZ Amateur and NZ PGA titles.
Auckland-based Australian Peter Fowler, who won the event in
1993 at Paraparaumu Beach, has a good track record at The
Hills and finished tied 33rd at the NZ PGA last year.
The New Zealanders are happy to have another NZ Open in
Turner, who won the title at Paraparaumu Beach in 1989 and
Royal Auckland in 1997, is looking forward to playing in his
''It means I'll have to get a lot of tickets,'' the
''In all seriousness, it's nice to get the New Zealand Open
back to Queenstown. Given my involvement in the Tourism NZ
initiative it feels like this is where the championship
Likewise for Pearce. The Otago professional, who is the last
Kiwi to win the tournament back in 2003 at Royal Auckland, is
gearing up for a big week at The Hills.
Perth-based Kiwi Michael Long, who won the event in 1996 at
Paraparaumu Beach, said coming home to play in the New
Zealand Open was always a great thrill.
Japanese Tour pro David Smail won the New Zealand Open of
2001 at The Grange and said it was the highlight of his
That win proved a catalyst for an important period of his
career, he said.
''After that I went to Sydney and won the Canon and was then
runner-up in the Johnnie Walker to Michael Campbell. My
career sort of went on from there.
''I went up to Japan and won the Japan Open in 2002 and that
really sparked things and I had a few more wins.''