It will be a homecoming of sorts when Korean golfer Y.E. Yang tees it up in the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Open this March coming.
Yang spent several years playing in New Zealand in the mid-1990s to hone his game before turning professional in 1996.
The 2017 New Zealand Open will be held March 9 – 12 at Millbrook Resort and The Hills. It will be the 98th edition of the tournament. It was played for the first time in 1907 and would be well over 100 years, but for being skipped 10 times for World Wars I and II.
Yang was the first Asian male golfer to win a USPGA Major when he won the 2009 U.S. PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, posting a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods, the first time in his career that Woods had failed to close out a win after holding the 54-hole lead.
Yang devoted about four years to playing in Auckland, Christchurch, Taupo and other places. He has earned over $15 million around the globe in his 20 years as a professional.
The New Zealand Open has also attracted a couple of local Kiwi pros, Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry. Fox is coming off a good year, having earned full playing privileges on the European PGA Tour. Hendry has been filling his purse with money from the Japan Golf Tour.
Mahal Pearce was the last Kiwi to win the New Zealand Open, in 2003. The 2017 prize money will be $1 million NZD.