American Heath Slocum, with seven professional wins including four on the PGA TOUR, leads a quartet of world-class players confirmed to play in next month’s ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open in Queenstown.
Slocum, who rose into the world’s top 50 players, will be joined by Koreans Young-Han Song, the Open’s highest ranked player at World Number 78 and his fellow PGA player SJ ‘Andrew’ Park and multi- winner on the European Tour, Marcus Fraser from Australia.
The 93rd ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a NZ$1 million Tier One event on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour and Asian Tour, to be played in Queenstown at Millbrook Resort and The Hills on 9-12 March.
“It’s a huge boost to the tournament to attract four players of this quality,” said New Zealand Open Tournament Director, Michael Glading.
“Song is now 78th in the world so he is ranked ahead of the likes of our own Danny Lee and Major winners like Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Keegan Bradley.
“Slocum has battled professional life with ulcerative colitis and still won some of the biggest events on the PGA Tour and amassed over $22 million in the process.
“Park has strong links to New Zealand, and is battling back from injury in his career on the PGA TOUR while Marcus Fraser is a class player around the globe.
“With the level of players coming as a result of our partnerships with the Japan Tour and the Asian Tour, and strong representation from Australia and New Zealand, the Open this year will be eye-catching.”
Slocum, 43, who will also play in the LawnMaster Horizon Golf NZPGA Championship in Palmerston North, has won seven times on the PGA Tour including the McGladrey Classic in 2010, the Barclays in 2009 and the Chrysler Classic in 2004.
He qualified for the first six FEDEx Cup playoffs in a row, finished runner-up in the World Cup with Boo Weekley representing USA, and was a regular contender for many years.
Since contracting ulcerative colitis in 1997 he’s since become a national spokesperson for CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation) as well as a significant financial contributor.
Park played in New Zealand as an amateur, earning a number of titles at North Harbour, where his coaches included well-known Kiwi professional Bob MacDonald.
He turned professional with a win on the Japan Challenge Tour in 2010 and after earning promotion to the Japan Tour, win the Vana H Cup KBC Augusta in 2013, finishing 5th on the Japan Order of Merit that year. Park earned promotion to Web.com Tour and then on to the PGA TOUR in 2015 where he finished runner-up to Bill Haas in the Humana Challenge in just his fifth start. His winnings that year totalled US$600,000. He represented South Korea at the 2011 World Cup.
He is returning to play after being sidelined with a shoulder injury, after earning a medical exemption from the PGA TOUR for 2017.
At just 25, Song is a revelation since turning professional in 2011. He enjoyed three runner-ups to be 15th on the moneylist on the Japan Tour in 2015 with his breakthrough coming with a stunning one shot victory over Jordan Speith in the CIMB Singapore Open in 2016. He finished 2016 in fourth place on the Japan money list, making him the highest-ranking JGTO player in the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open field.
Fraser is a class player with six wins to his credit on the European and Asian Tours, along with turn runners-up in playoffs tin the Australian Masters, BMW Open and Balantines. The 38-year-old, currently ranked 133rd in the world, was the midway leader at the Rio Olympics after an opening round 63.
Prior to turning professional he was one of the world’s leading amateurs, winning the prestigious Asia Pacific Championship in 2001 before crossing the Tasman to win the New Zealand Amateur title in 2002.
The tournament has attracted 11 former New Zealand Open winners along with former Major winner YE Yang.
The field will be finalised next week, with the opening two rounds split between The Hills and Millbrook Resort, which will host the final two rounds.
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