European Tour card holder Josh Geary headlines a top field of golfers to contest the Latitude 37 Bar and Restaurant Pro-Am at Mount Maunganui Golf Club today
The tournament has attracted 90 amateurs and 40 of New Zealand's top professionals who will play for $11,000 prizemoney. There will also be a chance to win $10,000 with a hole-in-one on the Craig's Investment Partners 14th hole.
Geary, who turned 33 on Monday, has travelled back from South Africa where he played in the Johannesburg Open last week. He knows the Mount links as well as any player in the field having played there as a junior.
He is also the course record holder after shooting a sizzling 11-under par 61 in January 2015. The previous course record of 62 was shared by Ian Stanley from Australia in 1975, Kiwi Terry Kendall in 1969 and Geary himself back in 2006, a year before he turned pro.
Last month Geary shot 67, 64, 65 to finish off the intense six-round final European Tour qualifying tournament in Spain inside the top 10. His reward is to join fellow Kiwi Ryan Fox on the second most lucrative golf tour next year - the European Tour.
Others to watch out for on the pristine Mount Maunganui links include former European Tour winner and Mount Maunganui resident Mark Brown. He is in vintage form after finishing sixth at the Australian Open where he mixed it with the world's best including Jason Day and Jordan Speith.
Western Bay homegrown pros Hayden Beard (Mount Maunganui) and Kieran Muir (Omokoroa) are likely to shine in conditions they are so familiar with. Brad Shilton (Waikato) and Fraser Wilkin (Auckland) could also be in the mix after 18 holes.
Mount Maunganui Golf Club general manager Michael Williams says the club has a proud record in New Zealand of holding professional golf tournaments.
"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," he said.
Most of the professionals in the field played in Cambridge on Tuesday in the penultimate stop on the NZ Order of Merit with Hawke's Bay's Peiter Zwart winning there.
The Mount Maunganui tournament is the final stop on the NZPGA Order of Merit which adds extra spice to the event with final placings and playing rights for 2018 on the New Zealand circuit up for grabs.
The Order of Merit champion will be crowned at Mount Maunganui. Harry Bateman from Muriwai has all but wrapped up the title after a successful season travelling around New Zealand. He will want to finish his season in style by winning the title and gaining the playing privileges that come with that in 2018.
Play gets under way today with a shotgun start at 11.30am with Geary starting off the first tee and Brown off the second. Entry is free for spectators.