Golf: Chopra heads NZ Open field

Daniel Chopra of Sweden plays a shot during the Myanmar Open. Photo / Getty Images
Daniel Chopra of Sweden plays a shot during the Myanmar Open. Photo / Getty Images

Two-time US PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra headlines a strong line-up from around the world confirmed to attend the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown next month.

Players from Sweden, South Africa, Korea and Northern Ireland will join competitors from Australia and New Zealand in addition to 26 from the world's third-largest golf tour, the Japan Golf Tour.

Chopra will be joined by South African pair Dylan Frittelli and former US PGA Tour player Tjaart van der Walt, and promising young Irishman Cormac Sharvin, for the event from March 10 to March 13 at two Queenstown courses, The Hills and Millbrook.

That quartet will also join a strong list of Kiwi and Australian professionals including Steve Alker, Ryan Fox, Mike Hendry, Josh Geary, Adam Bland, Scott Strange and Brendan Jones, as well as recent winners Jordan Zunic, Dimi Papadatos, Jake Higginbottom and Brad Kennedy.

"The range of professionals in contention this year includes everything from seasoned players with numerous wins to their name, to some of the most exciting, up-and-coming and 'hungry' young golfers with everything to win and nothing to lose," says Tournament Director Michael Glading.

"It's great to have youngsters like Frittelli and Sharvin come to New Zealand at the start of their careers, a perfect time for the New Zealand public to see some of the stars of the future.

"In addition, having such renowned players as Chopra and Van der Walt, who've both played regularly on the US PGA Tour, is a real bonus. And let's not forget the quality of players we have from Down Under and of course Japan and Korea, where we have a large number of players more than capable of winning this tournament."

Chopra, a native Swede, played the European Tour from 1996 to 2002 before joining the US PGA Tour in 2004, winning in 2007 and again in 2008. The 42-year-old will return to New Zealand after plying his trade on the Asian tour.

Frittelli recently featured on New Zealand screens when he was beaten in a play-off for the 2015 Australia PGA Championship at Royal Pines in December.

Since turning professional in mid-2012 he has recorded two victories, on the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour.

Fellow countryman van der Walt will make his first appearance in New Zealand having recorded an array of runner-up finishes across the globe, with his only professional win coming in the 2013 Lion of Africa Cape Town Open on the Sunshine Tour, 17 years after turning pro.

Sharvin will arrive having recently starred in the European Walker Cup victory over the USA, winning all three of his matches. His natural talent is evidenced by the fact that he only started playing the game aged 15, reaching scratch handicap level within 18 months.
The 23-year-old won the Irish Amateur as well as the prized Brabazon Trophy in the UK, before Walker Cup selection in 2015.

Auckland golf fans will be thrilled to know that Frittelli, Van der Walt and Chopra will also be playing in the NZPGA Championship March 3 to 6.

- NZ Herald

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