Hot scores expected in the Mount sun...............
Tomorrow the Mount Maunganui Golf Club hosts the Latitude 37 Bar and Restaurant Pro-am. The tournament has attracted 40 of NZ’s top golf professionals who will be paired with three amateurs while they play for $11,000 prize money. There will also be the chance to win $10,000 with a hole in one on the Craig’s Investment Partners 14th hole.
The tournament is the final stop on the NZPGA order of merit which adds a bit of extra spice to the event with the players looking for a top order of merit finish and some players looking to earn enough money to retain their playing rights for 2018 on the New Zealand circuit.
The Mount Maunganui Golf Club has a long history of hosting professional golf tournaments and is one of the historical homes of the NZPGA Championship which was played during the Christmas and New Year period in the late 60’s and early 70’s. “The Mount has a proud record within New Zealand of holding professional golf tournaments and we are really looking forward to running our 7th consecutive one-day pro-am,” Mount Golf Club General Manager Michael Williams said. “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.”
Of the players who will tee it up tomorrow at the Mount, home town hero and new European Tour player Josh Geary 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. Geary 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.
Others to watch out for include former European Tour winner and adopted Mount Maunganui local Mark Brown. Brown is in fine form after finishing 6th 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.
The players will be arriving from Cambridge where they played on Tuesday in the penultimate stop on the NZ order of merit. Hawkes Bay 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 and Harry Bateman has all but wrapped up 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 that in 2018.
Don’t be surprised to see names such as Hayden Beard (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 but 70 – 72 will only have them mid pack in what should be a birdie fest. 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.