A powerful contingent of Japan Tour golfers will be heading to Queenstown for the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in March.
The field will boast no fewer than eight separate winners on the Japan Tour in 2015, including in Yusaku Miyazato and Yoshinori Fujimoto two players who are ranked in the world's top 100.
Overall a 26-strong line-up from the Japan Tour has been confirmed for the event, compared to 21 at last year's New Zealand Open. Among those 26 players are 12 of the top 30 from the Japan Tour 2015 money list, compared to seven in 2015.
Tournament director Michael Glading said he was "thrilled" with the high quality group of players challenging for this year's title, calling it an indication of the growing strength of the relationship between the New Zealand Open and the Japan Tour.
"The money list is a great indicator of the calibre of these players from the Japan Tour, and we're expecting many of them to be 'in the hunt' as the tournament heads into its final days," Glading said. "They might not be household names in New Zealand, but all of them are very well-known in their home countries and within SE Asia."
Leading the Japanese challenge will be Miyazato, who finished second on the Japan Tour money list last year, and Fujimoto, who managed 10 finishes inside the top 10 on the Tour in 2015. Another one to watch will be 11-time Japan Tour winner Hideto Tanihara, a player who has notched up career earnings of $11.6 million.
The increased Japanese interest has also seen the New Zealand open encourage Japan's leading golf television network to send a crew to Queenstown to broadcast live coverage of the event to over 7.8m homes in Japan.
The New Zealand Open is a tier one event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour. The 2016 event will be played from March 10 to March 13 at two iconic Queenstown courses, The Hills and Millbrook.