ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open this week. One of the Tour Insider's favourite stops of the year and I am not on my own with those sentiments, what a spectacular venue for a hit of golf!
Very close last week with one of my selections, Ben Campbell all but getting the chocolates. Tour Insider is close to getting a winner so follow this week’s tips closely.
The NZ Open the last few years has been dominated by young Aussies and other than Matt Griffin last year the previous three winners in Jake Higginbottom, Dimi Papadatos and Jordan Zunic all reordered their first wins at this event. The change from three rounds at Hills to three at Millbrook this year could throw up some interesting golf but my tips are heavily slanted to another young Aussie saluting this week.
Tour Insider may be starting to sound like a broken record but I do feel Ryan Fox, Ben Campbell, David Bransdon, Ben Eccles and Lucas Herbert will all play well again, however this week my money will be on the boys below.
#1 Jake Higginbottom
A previous winner who is starting to show some good form again. Re-focused on his golf now after a little down time last year and I'm sure a win isn't far away.
#2 Dimi Papadatos
Another past champion and is playing the first couple of rounds with Higginbottom, these two could spur each other on to a couple of low rounds. Hopefully Tour Insider will get an invite to the party that follows a victory with the sweet talking (and looking) Greek likely to be hanging with the best looking backpackers in Queenstown on Sunday evening and I'm sure the trophy will attract some extra attention!
#3 Jake McLeod
Likeable Aussie young gun who has played some impressive golf this year. Works hard at his game and I think now believes he belongs on Tour and can compete with the best.
#4 Adam Bland
Competes mainly in Japan these days but an impressive display in Perth has the SA leftie ready to contend this week. Good all round game and his would be a maiden victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia if Blandy can salute on Sunday.
#5 Anthony Quayle
Rookie who has already played some impressive golf in his first few starts on Tour. Looks a very good player and perhaps if he can start believing a little more he may get over the line soon. It would be a surprise to see him win this week but Tour Insider believes he can and you only have to ask the likes of Higginbottom, Papadatos and Zunic if an unheralded Aussie can take NZ Golf's biggest crown.
Footnote - Tour Insider also notes that Shunsuke Sonoda and Ryutaro Nagano who both finished top-20 last year have returned to play this year as well as a number of top Japanese and Asian Tour players. These guys are very good players!
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