Matthew Griffin has flown more than 11,000 kilometres to tee it up in this title defence at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open this week.

Matthew GriffinThanks to winning the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, Griffin earned a place against 48 of the top-50 players in the world at the WGC – Mexico Championship last week.

It was a grind for the Victorian who plies his trade on his home Tour and the Japan Golf Tour; he finished down the field but learnt from the experience.

“I had a rough week last week in Mexico. When you take on the best and don’t play well, you get punished. I had a decent last round which was good,” said Griffin.

“I get to play the Open Championship in the middle of the year and the HSBC Champs later in the year.

“While I didn’t make the most of the first opportunity I had at the WGC in Mexico, I have a couple more there and if I can put my best foot forward and play some good golf then it will be a good opportunity to further my career.”

Heading from the plane directly to Millbrook Resort it was straight down to business for Griffin as he aims to win the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open back-to-back, a feat no player has achieved since Corey Pavin in 1985.

“It is great to be back and get some good positive vibes from where I played really well last year and there are lots of friends and family here with me this week,” added Griffin.

“I always felt until last year that I had played these courses well but never hit low scores. Last year those low scores came.

“It is a little different being mostly here at Millbrook Resort but I have my first round at The Hills which will bring back some good memories, and hopefully I can channel some of that and get off to a good chance.”

While jet lag could threaten to de-rail Griffin, he is optimistic of being in the mix on Sunday.

“I don’t feel too bad right now as I’ve just jumped off the plane but tomorrow it will kick in a little bit but I just have to make the most of it. Maybe having a short preparation will work for me this week,” added Griffin.

“I love the courses. It rewards good ball striking both The Hills and Millbrook Resort.

“The greens look firm and fast so you have to be hitting the ball well to give yourself a chance and if you are out of position it is hard to hit your way back into position.”