The 2017 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open champion Michael Hendry heads up a strong group of 12 New Zealanders mixed with proven winners and exciting young talent in the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
Hendry has been plying his trade on the Japan Golf Tour where he was a winner in 2015 and will join fellow Japan Tour winner and countryman David Smail, as well as Mark Brown, Daniel Pearce, Josh Geary, Gareth Paddison, Michael Long, Ben Campbell, Kieran Muir and Harry Bateman.
Talented amateurs and now first-year professionals Ryan Chisnall and Nick Voke round out the Kiwi challenge at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.
Hendry became the first New Zealander to win their national Open since Mahal Pearce in 2003 which he followed up with a second place finish in the Japan Tour’s Gate Way to The Open – The Mizuno Open, enough to see him make his major debut at the 146th Open Championship.
He replicated that same Japanese result in 2018 to make a second straight appearance in the prestigious tournament.
“It was another amazing experience, anytime you can book a spot in a Major against the world’s best golfers is always going to be pretty special,” said Hendry.
“I’m looking forward to carrying some of those good vibes over to Fiji and hopefully get a good result there. It’s quite close to home so it’s a great chance to pop over to New Zealand, refresh a little bit before getting stuck back into the season overseas.”
There’s a sense of unfinished business for Hendry returning to Fiji, he finished runner-up to American Brandt Snedeker in the 2016 edition of the tournament.
“I have played well there before, there were a few changes Vijay Singh made to the track and I had my first look at those last year.
“Hopefully I can put it all together this time and go one better than I did in 2016.”
Hendry has been one of the most consistent performers on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia recording top-5 finishes on the money list in the last two seasons, a strong performance at the AU$1.25 million Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways would put him in good stead for a third strong result on the Order of Merit.
“It’d be great to win that Order of Merit title, it opens so many doors through the exemptions you receive with it,” added Hendry.
“There’s a couple of guys who have already gotten off to great starts this season so it’ll be difficult to catch them but a good result in Fiji would be the first step.”
The even dozen New Zealanders add to the international flavour the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways has established over the past five years.
“We have so many talented New Zealander golfers who are part of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and it’s great to see them so well represented in the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways,” said Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia which owns the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“As a proud sporting nation, New Zealand enjoys a strong relationship with its Pacific neighbours and it’s fantastic to see that relationship continue with both Fiji and golf in general.”
About the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways
To be held from 2-5 August 2018 the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course which boasts breathtaking views of the Coral Coast and is home to the Natadola Beach Land Estate.
Enticed by the tropical destination, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways has attracted some of the world’s best golfers since its inaugural staging in 2014 including Fijian hero and three-time Major champion Vijay Singh, 2017 champion Jason Norris, 2016 champion Brandt Snedeker, 2015 champion Matt Kuchar, 2014 champion Steven Jeffress, Steven Bowditch, Boo Weekley and Nick Price.
This year’s tournament is set to feature four-time Major champion and Captain of the International Team for the 2019 Presidents Cup, Ernie Els.
In 2018, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways continues to have a global presence confirming its position as an integral tournament in the South Pacific region, with the tournament being tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour.
A Pacific paradise, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways also boasts some of the most unique hospitality options in world golf with the par-3 8th hole providing the perfect vantage point to watch the golf, whilst socialising on the beach.
More than just a golf tournament, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways aims to leave a lasting legacy for golf in the Pacific region, with the PGA of Australia supporting initiatives to introduce and grow the game in Fiji.
Owned by SEL and the PGA of Australia, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways is proudly supported by the Fijian Government, Tourism Fiji and the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa as the official resort of the tournament.
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