Australian Scott Hend will be the tournament favourite coming into the New Zealand Open Championship being played at The Hills and Millbrook Resort in Queenstown this week. Ranked 125 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Hend is the highest ranked player in the field although he puts little stock in this. Rankings are based on what you have done in previous weeks gone past, anything can happen this week, said Hend. It’s a nice edge to say that you re the highest ranked player here this week, but you ve still got to perform. However Hend knows how to win, recording three victories on the Asian Tour in 2013 and believes his improved health has been the key to his success. I had major surgery about a year and a half ago, I had my thyroids removed, I was having chemical imbalances, problems with my temper and it really affected my golf, added Hend. I m more flat line on the golf course, not so much up and down. I think that s why my golf has improved, I won four times so the Asian Tour in the space of 18 months. In the past Hend had opportunities to win the New Zealand Open Championship but has no expectations of his performance this week. I ve had my chances to win the New Zealand Open in the past and I haven t won, I had a chance when Tiger was here at Paraparaumu in 2002, added Hend who finished 9ththat year. I know myself and I don t have any high expectations first week back from a break. When you don t expect it to happen that s sometimes when you play some pretty good golf. I m not putting pressure on myself to play good, but obviously I d like to play good. It’s a little bit of reverse psychology. Hend had his first look at The Hills layout this morning and despite singing its praises, it is a course which mitigates his driving ability. The course is in a great condition, the rough is very penalising if you hit it wide of your targets but I like the way the golf course is set up with the definition of the fairways. You know where you have to hit it, you hit it there or you are in a lot of trouble, said Hend. This golf course does my head in a little bit. I find a lot of the tee shots a little difficult for the way I hit the ball. In the tournament I have to gear back and hit a little bit longer clubs. Where I want to drive the ball the fairway tucks in tight and there s long heather on the left and tussock on the right. Hend will take his first look at the Millbrook Resort tomorrow. With a strong field and two challenging layouts the winner of the New Zealand Open will need to be at the top of their game this week. If you win anywhere in the world right now, you ve got to be proud of yourself because it s very difficult and there s a lot of competition, a lot, added Hend. The New Zealand Open Championship tees off at The Hills and Millbrook Resort on Thursday 27th February. The champion will be decided on Sunday 2nd March and will receive the winner s share of the NZ$900,000 prize purse as well as Official World Golf Rankings.