Forty of New Zealand’s top golf professionals will come together at Mount Maunganui Golf Club today for the Latitude 37 Bar and Restaurant Pro-am, the final stop on the NZ PGA order of merit.
Players will be looking to earn a top order of merit finish, with some looking to earn enough money to retain their playing rights for 2018 on the New Zealand circuit.
Each golfer will be paired with three amateurs playing for $11,000 of prize money and another chance to win $10,000 with a hole in one on the Craig’s Investment Partners fourteenth hole.
Mount Golf Club general manager Michael Williams says the club has a long history of hosting professional golf tournaments and is one of many historical homes of the NZPGA Championship which was played during the Christmas and New Year period in the late 60s and early 70s.
“We are really looking forward to running our seventh consecutive one-day pro-am. To have attracted 40 top players at this time of year after a long-playing season is testament to the Mount’s reputation as a tournament host and golf course.”
Players who will tee up today include home town hero and new European Tour player, Josh Geary, who will start as one of the favourites.
“Geary has made the effort to travel back from South Africa where he played in the Johannesburg Open last week.
“He played a lot of junior golf at the Mount and will need no reminder on how to negotiate his way around the famous beachside course.”
Other players to watch out for include former European Tour winner and adopted Mount Maunganui local Mark Brown.
“Brown is in fine form after finishing sixth at the recent Australian Open where he mixed it with the world’s best including Jason Day and Jordan Speith.
“Brown hails from Wellington but is now based in the Mount where he is seen regularly honing his game. He will be certainly one to watch.”
Players will be arriving from Cambridge where they played on Tuesday in the penultimate stop on the NZ order of merit, says Michael.
“Hawkes Bay’s Peiter Zwart was victorious there and will be another lining up to get his share of the $11,000.00 prize pool.”
The order of merit champion will be crowned after the event, with Harry Bateman looking to secure the title after a busy and successful season travelling around New Zealand.
He will be wanting to finish his season in style and lock up the title and the playing privileges that come with it in 2018.
“Don’t be surprised to see names such as Hayden Beard from Mount Golf Club, Kieran Muir, Omokoroa, Brad Shilton, Waikato, or Fraser Wilkin, Auckland, in the mix after 18 holes.
“Scoring should be low with the course in pristine condition and the weather forecast superb for the day. A 65 or 66 will have players very close to the lead. 70 – 72 will only have them mid pack in what should be a birdie fest.
He says no one will know the course better than veteran professional Dean Sipson who has played at the Mount for over 30 years.
“Sipson is still very active on the circuit and may keep the younger players on their toes with his local knowledge.”
Play tees off from 11.30am with 90 Amateurs and the 40 professionals entered. Entry is free for spectators.