24 Jan 2017

Top Japanese golfers to play NZ Open

10:29 am on 24 January 2017

Some of Japan's best golfers will compete in the 93rd New Zealand Open in Queenstown in March.

Japan golfer Daisuke Kataoka competing at the New Zealand Open 2016.

Japan golfer Daisuke Kataoka competing at the New Zealand Open 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

More than 20 Japanese and Korean players from the Japan Tour have confirmed their entries for the event at the Millbrook Resort and The Hills from March 9th.

With the lucrative Japan Golf Tour home season not getting underway until April, the best from that Tour are increasingly looking to New Zealand for some tournament play.

Amongst the Japanese contingent confirmed for Queenstown are leading players Yusaku Miyazato, Shunsuke Sonoda, Toshinori Muto, Yoshi Fujimoto, Daisuke Kataoka and Ryutaro Nagano.

While these players may not be household golfing names in New Zealand, the sextet have secured 16 wins between them on the Japan Golf Tour, and combined career earnings of around 26 million dollars.

Sonoda and Fujimoto finished in the top five last year and look likely to contend again.

Leading the way is Miyazato, the 36 year old who has three wins to his credit and over 7million in earnings. He was second on the Japan Order of Merit in 2015 and fought back well last year after a slow start.

Muto, also 36, has six career wins to his credit with six top-10s in 2016 including runner up in the Japan PGA Championship and total earnings approaching 7 million dollars.

While the tournament has attracted plenty of well-known golf names from New Zealand and Australia especially, along with USPGA Champion Y.E. Yang, the Japanese contingent will no doubt provide plenty of fireworks.

The New Zealand Open is a 1 million dollar Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.