Past champs return for 103rd New Zealand Open

2023 New Zealand Open Champion, Brendan Jones holds aloft the Brodie Breeze trophy at Millbrook Resort. Photo: Supplied/

The New Zealand Open is marking 103 days until the 103rd New Zealand Open tees off, by announcing six recent past champions who have all committed to playing at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown between February 29 and March 3, 2024.

The New Zealand Open, first contested in 1907, is one of the leading events on the PGA Tour of Australasia as well as on the Asian Tour and is one of the most iconic sporting events in the country.

Tournament Director Michael Glading is delighted to confirm the return of six past champions who are all keen to claim the Brodie Breeze Trophy once more.

“When you talk to these past champions, and indeed to many returning players, they all express so much positivity about the event, and there is no doubt that they all do their utmost to return to Queenstown each year,” says Michael.

Defending champion Brendan Jones is keen to recapture the magic that saw him lift the trophy earlier this year.

The Canberra-based golfer fell in love with golf in Queenstown, quickly becoming a regular at the New Zealand Open in its current format, but it took Brendan until his 48th birthday to get his hands on the Brodie Breeze Trophy.

After considering retirement during the pandemic, Brendan returned better than before, reinvigorated with his game and the sport.

He is the most successful foreign player on the Japan Golf Tour, having won more than NZ$14 million including 14 titles in a career spanning 20 years.

“Winning the 2023 New Zealand Open was one of the coolest things that has happened in my golfing career. To win such a great tournament in my favourite place in the world was really special,” says Brendan.

“The tournament gets better year on year which I’m so happy about for my friends Michael Glading, John Hart and the amazing team they have around them. I can’t wait to get back.”

Two-time champion Brad Kennedy, who captured the title in 2011 and 2020, will return to Queenstown in a bid to join the eight others who have added their name three times to the winners list.

The Sydneysider currently plies his trade on the Japan Tour where he has won three times with career earnings of around NZ$5m.

Brad has always prospered at Millbrook Resort. As well as his second victory in 2020, he was T2 in 2017 and T4 in 2019.

“I’m really looking forward to walking down the fairways at Millbrook again,  connecting with the emotions from 2020 and using them as motivation for this year,” says Brad.

“Queenstown is an amazing place; as soon as you get off the plane you feel like it’s a holiday not a golf event which puts you in a great frame of mind. You can’t beat Kiwi hospitality!”

2019 champion Zach Murray will go down in history as the winner of the 100th New Zealand Open where he led from start to finish in a brilliant performance which opened the door for him to compete on the Asian Tour where he has put in some solid performances including T17 at the New Zealand Open in 2023.

“It makes me smile just thinking about how cool it was to win the 100th New Zealand Open,” says Zach.

“Queenstown is my favourite place in the world, I think about it at least once a week! It holds a very special place in my heart and I’m very much looking forward to coming back.”

Matthew Griffin’s win in 2016 came with a dramatic final hole battle.

Teeing off one shot behind Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, Matthew nailed his birdy and with Tanihara recording a bogey, he claimed the title by one shot.

Griffin has also played with success on the Japan, Korean and Australasian Tours winning seven titles in total, but his victory at the New Zealand Open remains his most significant.

“The New Zealand Open in Queenstown is always one of my favourite weeks of the year. Playing events that you have won in the past fills you with great memories and I can't wait to be back," says Matthew.

Jordan Zunic claimed his first professional win at the New Zealand Open in 2015 with a slender one-shot victory at The Hills over compatriot David Bransdon.

Jordan currently plays on the Challenge Tour in Europe and after his victory in 2015, had a crack at the big time when he narrowly lost on the second playoff hole against former world number one Cameron Smith in the 2017 Australian PGA Championship.

“I’m very excited to be heading back to Queenstown again, a  very special place for me being my first professional win. My wife's parents live on the course at Millbrook Resort so it's my home away from home and I just love the atmosphere of the event.”

2014 New Zealand Open Champion Dimitrios Papadatos says the New Zealand Open is the “first event on my schedule” and can’t wait to get back to Queenstown.

“The New Zealand Open is very special, my first professional win that gave me the belief to continue my golf career," says Dimitrios.

"I feel very proud to be on the trophy with some of the greats of the game like Sir Bob Charles, Peter Thompson, Ian Baker-Finch and Michael Campbell.”

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