The New Zealand PGA has attracted a strong local field
with a home-country victory a distinct possibility.
Defending champion Michael Hendry will compete at The Hills
at the end of next month after having a stellar 2012 season,
winning a further three titles after last year's victory.
Hendry was able to rack up several top-10 finishes on the PGA
Tour of Australasia and the OneAsia Tour as well as secure
his card on the lucrative 2013 Japan Tour after a top-30
finish at qualifying school.
The majority of New Zealand's best golfers will be in
Queenstown from February 28 to March 3.
This will include three former champions in 2009 winner
Steven Alker, 1984 champion Greg Turner and Simon Owen, who
won in 1978.
Last year's runner-up, Mark Brown, who finished a creditable
fifth on the Australasia Order of Merit, will be looking to
go one better this year.
Other top touring Kiwis who will play include David Smail,
Ryan Fox, Gareth Paddison, Josh Geary, Brad Shilton, Richard
Lee, Phil Tataurangi and Perth-based Michael Long.
Tournament director Michael Glading said the unique celebrity
pro-amateur format has helped reel in the top home talent.
''The tournament has a unique feel to it, and is clearly one
that the majority of pros enjoy,'' he said.
''The majesty of Queenstown, and The Hills in particular is a
strong drawcard, and we are really delighted to have all of
our top players other than [Michael] Campbell and [Danny] Lee
come and join us this year.''
Alker finished 2012 in fine form with a top-five finish at
the Chile Classic on the Web.com Tour and had a top-20 finish
at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Also turning heads last year was Queenstown's Greg Turner
when he surprised everyone by dusting his clubs after almost
a decade in retirement to play the Harewood Open.
He then lined up at the NZ Open at Clearwater and defied all
the odds when he made the cut, a decade after he last
contested the event.