Bradley Iles lives out of a suitcase, city and country-hopping his way around the professional golfing circuit. The money isn't that great but the Papamoa professional golfer is not bothered.
"I'm never concerned about making money, mate. I just like to get out there and play as well as I can," the 22-year-old said last night from a Gisborne motel, soon after finishing runner-up to Gareth Paddison in the $10,000 Emerald Hotels' Poverty Bay Pro-Am.
For his troubles Iles earned $100, which takes his 2006 earnings to more than $7000, thanks to his mid-20s finish in the Jacob's Creek Open Championship placing in Australia last month that yielded $6915.
"I'm sort of making ends meet. You see, people don't realise how much it costs to play," said the 2003 New Zealand Golfer of the Year.
Iles made a dash this morning to tee off in the $22,500 Adidas-Taylormade Hastings Pro-Am at the Hastings Golf Club in Bridge Pa.
Iles was to line up against 35 other professionals at midday today to chase a $5000 purse in a gold-level sponsors' one-on-one ambrose 18-hole tournament.
Tomorrow and Friday, 54 professionals will join 26 teams of three amateurs per team to play in a championship that Hastings club general manager Ken Dungey says is a new format employed in New Zealand that mirrors that played in the AT & T event at Pebble Beach in the United States.
Hawke's Bay's newest golf professional, Doug Holloway, of Maraenui Golf Club, and Hastings club's Richard Squire are among the field. So is former Hawke's Bay representative Guy Penrose, who was fourth in the New Zealand order of merit with earnings of $3443 after winning the Tip Top Mangawhai Pro-Am on March 18-19.
Holloway sits in 12th spot on the order of merit, earning $2382 after Mangawhai.
Paddison will surge up the order, moving his $387 into four-digit figures after yesterday's Poverty Bay victory.
Squire with $403 is in 34th place in an order that boasts the likes of Matt Holten, Richard Best, Brad Shilton, Martin Pettigrew, Simon Owen and Peter Fowler.
But all eyes will be on Iles in Hastings who late last month finished 78th at the ING New Zealand Championship at the par 72 Clearwater Country Club in Christchurch.
Iles fractured his skull and was in a coma for three days after falling off a golf cart in South Carolina in July 2004 while out looking for alligators with his friends.
US Open champion Michael Campbell recently called him "the best talent to come out of New Zealand in a long time".
After making his debut in Australia last year, Iles went on to win $45,000 for finishing sixth equal at the Australian Masters in Melbourne.
"Michael got me into the PGA and Masters and gave me a starting point," said Iles, who last played with him at the Johnnie Walker Classic last month and congratulated him via email for winning the Halberg Sportsperson of the Year Award.
With his coach, Mal Tongue, and manager Dean Eggers supporting him, Iles said playing in Australia was not much different but said the platform there was much bigger.
"The contests and players are much tougher and have more going for it.
Aussie golf is huge and they have the best amateurs in the world. Not even the Americans can win there," he said.
Having last played at the Bridge Pa course in the 2004 New Zealand Under-23 Golf Championship, Iles is looking forward to emulating his idol and last year's pro-am winner, Mahal Pearce, and matching "some of the great golfers" from Hawke's Bay.
After two more tournaments in the country, Iles intends to train for a month at home before heading off to India on May 8 for a $US500,000 tournament.