Golf: Senior PGA Championship winner Steven Alker to play New Zealand Open

Steven Alker won the Senior PGA Championship earlier this year. Photo / Getty

Leading Kiwi professional Steven Alker has committed to the New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort next March.

More than 150 professionals will take on Millbrook Resort’s Coronet and Remarkable courses March 2-5 in their bid to claim the 102nd edition of the New Zealand Open.

Alker is a recent winner of one of the major events on the PGA Champions Tour (the Senior PGA Championship) and leads the Champions Tour standings.

Alker has confirmed he will be returning to the New Zealand Open for the first time since 2019, and will be looking to build on his incredible 2022 performances on the USPGA Champions Tour, winning three tournaments and NZ$4.8m in prize money in 2022 already.

“The New Zealand Open is and will always be on my bucket list of events to win. How could you not want to have your name on your national Open alongside the greats of our sport like Sir Bob Charles, Kel Nagle, Peter Thomson, Ian Baker-Finch and Michael Campbell” said Alker.

New Zealand’s other leading professional on the international stage, Ryan Fox, is however a doubtful starter in 2023, due to clashes with high-profile US PGA Tour events that he now qualifies to play in.

“We were delighted to see Ryan win the Alfred Dunhill Tournament at St Andrews and we fully understand that Ryan needs to chase his PGA Tour dream. The opportunities that have now opened up for him are not ones we would expect him to pass up on. He has been an enormous supporter of our event for many years, and we have no doubt that he will continue to support us in the years ahead whenever he can,” said Tournament Chairman John Hart.

Hart is happy to be returning to normality after a few stop/start years and is grateful for the support of all our various stakeholders through what has been a very challenging time.

“Firstly, we are excited to be planning for the New Zealand Open again after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 restrictions. We were disappointed to have to cancel the last two planned events in 2021 and again this year, but we is now full steam ahead for 2023,” Hart said.

“We are overwhelmed by the support of our financial backers,” said Hart. “All of our major sponsors have renewed their commitment to our event, which is extremely gratifying, particularly in light of our two recent cancellations. As well we have sold out the Amateur field with a significant international wait list of people looking to get in the event.”

With the completion of the new nine-holes at Millbrook Resort in 2021, The New Zealand Open will for the first time, will be played across both the Coronet and Remarkables championship courses providing a new dynamic to the event and some fantastic views for players and spectators alike.

“We are very lucky to have the unwavering support of the Ishii family and Millbrook Resort, and we are looking forward to showing off their amazing facility to New Zealand and the rest of the world. Both courses have true championship quality and the views from the newly completed Coronet course is breath-taking,” said Tournament Director Michael Glading.

“Our international field will again include numerous up and coming young players from around the world. We are proud of the fact that in recent New Zealand Opens, three of this year’s International Presidents Cup team have played in Queenstown, prior to breaking onto the world internship.”

“Sungjae Im (12th in 2017), Cameron Davis (7th in 2018) and Tom Kim (4th in 2020) are good examples of the quality of field that we are able to attract – as these players illustrate, we have hosted many of the world’s most promising players from Asia and Australasia, and we know that the 2023 event will again showcase some of the best young players from around the region,” said Glading.

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