David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Golf: Fox targeting Kiwi breakthrough at NZ Open

Ryan Fox is hoping to build on a successful 2015 and become the first Kiwi golfer in 13 years to win the New Zealand Open at Queenstown.

Fox performed well in last week's NZ PGA Championship at Remuera after overcoming a longstanding ankle injury and is among the favourites to take out the national tournament.

The Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia begins tomorrow and runs through to Sunday at two iconic Queenstown course, The Hills and Millbrook.

Mahal Pearce was the last New Zealander to win the tournament back in 2003.

"I'm feeling really good, the practice days have been good and coming off a pretty decent last week at the New Zealand PGA," Fox said after practice at The Hills today. "So hopefully I can get it going this week and be in contention come Sunday.

"Mark Brown's been close a couple of times in the last couple of years. It would be nice for one of us to get over the line.

"There's 13 of the top 15 Kiwis here so we've got pretty much as good a chance as any this year and hopefully one of us to get the job done."

Fox is impressed by the high calibre of talent among the 144-strong professional field, which also includes fellow Kiwis Josh Geary and Michael Hendry, Sweden's Daniel Chopra and last year's surprise winner Jordan Zunich.

The New Zealand No 2 is also wary of a strong contingent of 26 Japanese entrants featuring eight winners on the 2015 Japan Tour, including two players - Yusaku Miyazato and Yoshinori Fujimoto - who are ranked in the world's top 100.

"I'm playing with Daniel Chopra tomorrow and he's a two time PGA winner and quite a lot of the Japanese guys coming down are an unknown quantity for us, but have probably played for years on tour up there and are proven winners, so it's good to have such a good field," he said.

Fox says the two courses are playing similarly with relatively even green speeds which should see some consistent low scoring over the weekend, particularly at The Hills.

"They're both rolling really, really well and both really similar speeds which is what you want. I think the Hills probably gives you a few more opportunities, especially the back nine.

"There's a lot of slopes you can use to get the ball close to the hole and give yourself a lot of really short birdie chances. But then again, if you're just off it will penalise you quite a lot.

"Millbrook, some of the greens can be a bit trickier there and it's probably a bit longer than here as well, but you still get a score going."

- NZ Herald

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