Golf: Steven Alker confirmed for NZ Open but Ryan Fox not expected to play

Steven Alker has won $4.8 million in prize money this year.  He has confirmed that he will play in the New Zealand Open in March.

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Steven Alker has won $4.8 million in prize money this year. He has confirmed that he will play in the New Zealand Open in March.

Prominent New Zealand professional golfer Steven Alker will play in the New Zealand Open in March, but compatriot Ryan Fox isn’t expected to join him.

While Alker, who plays on the Senior PGA Tour Championship circuit, has confirmed he will be returning to Queenstown for the NZ Open for the first time since 2019, Fox will be a doubtful starter due to clashes with his commitments on the US PGA Tour.

Ryan Fox of New Zealand, pictured with his trophy after winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Old Course St in St Andrews in Scotland, is not expected to play in the NZ Open next year.

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Ryan Fox of New Zealand, pictured with his trophy after winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Old Course St in St Andrews in Scotland, is not expected to play in the NZ Open next year.

Alker will be aiming to build on his hot form in 2022, having won 3 tournaments and amassed NZ$4.8m in prize money. He won the Senior PGA Championship title in May, earning a payout of $964,000.

“The New Zealand Open is and will always be on my bucket list of events to win,” Alker said.

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“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.”

Tournament chairman John Hart said organizers were resigned to not having Fox on board and accepted his reasons for being unavailable.

“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,” Hart said.

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“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.”

This will be the first time the tournament, which will be played at Millbrook Resort’s Coronet and Remarkable courses between March 2-5, will be staged since 2020 because of the disruptions caused by Covid-19.

NZ Open tournament chairman John Hart welcomed the return of the event after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

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NZ Open tournament chairman John Hart welcomed the return of the event after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Hart was grateful for the support from stakeholders after the frustrations caused by the pandemic.

“We are overwhelmed by the support of our financial backers. 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 9 holes at Millbrook Resort in 2021, the tournament will be played across both the Coronet and Remarkables championship courses.

Tournament director Michael Glading said the international field will include numerous promising young players from around the world.

“We are proud of the fact that in recent NZ Opens, three of this year’s International Presidents Cup teams have played in Queenstown, prior to breaking onto the world stage.”