Golf: Korean legend KJ Choi confirmed for New Zealand Open in February

South Korea golfer KJ Choi
South Korea golfer KJ Choi Photo credit: Reuters

Asia's most successful golfer, KJ Choi, will return for a third straight New Zealand Open, which tees off in Queenstown next month.

Choi, who has 29 victories over 25 years as a professional, will extend his PGA Tour career this year under a new exemption category.

The South Korean will split his time with the veteran Champions Tour, after he turns 50 in May.

While he has a busy year ahead, Choi was keen to return to the New Zealand Open and particularly Queenstown.

"I have greatly enjoyed my last two visits to the New Zealand Open and I cannot say enough about the presentation of the courses at Millbrook Resort and The Hills," said the former world No.5.

"I also enjoy the format, as it gives me a chance to play with amateur partners and also the opportunity to win a very prestigious golf title.

"Queenstown is a very beautiful location. I spent time in New Zealand as a young professional and always have such fond memories of this stunning country, and its warm and friendly people.

"I played quite well last year and I feel, if my game is at its best, then I can be very competitive at Millbrook Resort, which will be the host course this time."

Tournament director Michael Glading is thrilled to recruit such a popular and high-quality player again.

"We were initially very excited to attract KJ to the New Zealand Open in 2018," said Glading. "Once he came, he fell in love with the place and the tournament.

"He put the work into his game in 2019 and he was among the top-10 scorers over the weekend last year.

"There’s no doubt he still has the game and ability to be a real factor in this tournament."

The 101st edition of the tournament, which boasts a total prize purse of NZ$1.45 million, will be staged at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from February 27-March 1.