Top Kiwi lineup for NZ PGA

Last updated 10:29 29/01/2013

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One of the strongest contingents of New Zealand golfers in recent history will line up at the New Zealand PGA Championship in Queenstown next month.

The majority of the country's best players will tee off at The Hills for the PGA Tour of Australasia tournament, raising hopes of another homegrown champion this year.

Only Michael Campbell and Danny Lee are missing from the field, because of their commitments in Europe and the United States, respectively.

Michael Hendry is returning to defend his title, after becoming the first winner of the event under the new celebrity Pro-Am format last year.

Hendry had a fantastic year in 2012, going on to win a further three titles after his victory in Queenstown as well as racking up several top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour of Australasia and the OneAsia tour.

He also secured his card on the 2013 Japan Tour after a top-30 finish at qualifying school.

A further three former champions from New Zealand will join Hendry in the field: Steven Alker, Greg Turner and Simon Owen.

Alker, the 2009 winner, is back after missing the event last year. Alker finished 2012 in fine form with a top five finish at the Chile Classic on the Web.com Tour. Earlier in the year, he gave a glimpse of his talent with a top 20 finish at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Turner, the 1984 champion, is also back for a crack at the title. He surprised everyone when he dusted off his clubs after almost a decade in retirement to play the Harewood Open last year. He also lined up in the New Zealand Open at Clearwater and defied all the odds to make the cut and play all four rounds, 10 years after he last contested the event.

Owen, who is best remembered for his duel with Jack Nicklaus during the 1978 British Open, where he finished runner-up, makes a rare re-appearance in a major professional event, which marks the centenary of the New Zealand PGA.Former European Tour winner Mark Brown, runner-up at the tournament last year, will be looking to go one better this year.

Other top touring Kiwis who will tee it up include David Smail, Ryan Fox, Gareth Paddison, Josh Geary, Brad Shilton and Richard Lee, as well as Perth-based Michael Long.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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