Bay of Plenty are among the favoured teams to take out the 2012 Toro Interprovincial men's competition under way this week at the Balmacewen course in Dunedin.
The Bay were red hot favourites to take out last year's title, which would have made it seven victories since 2002, but were given an abject lesson in the fickleness of finals, when underdogs Southland putted brilliantly to cause a huge upset.
Bay of Plenty Golf chief executive Chris McAlpine is confident his team will do well, especially as they have a favourable draw and will not meet key rivals Northland until round three and Canterbury in round seven.
"Auckland and Waikato are certainly the strongest on the other side of the draw, but we beat them recently in the Garrard Shield, and with home advantage, Otago will be strong,'' said McAlpine.
"Southland have lost their best player in New Zealand number one Vaughan McCool, who is playing in the Australian Open, as is Manawatu number one Tyler Hodge.''
There is a core group of high-performing players in this year's team, coached by Jay Carter and managed by Aaron Walsh, with the age range between 18 and 22.
Number one Brad Kendall is in fine form and the Mount Maunganui golfer will be one of the key targets for opposition teams to try and knock over.
The Rotorua Golf Club has four players in the Bay team in Peter Lee, Landyn Edwards, Victor Jannin, and reserve William Howard. Sam Davis from Tauranga will play at number three in the five-man lineup.
McAlpine rates the fitness levels and depth of talent in this year's team as a key to their success this week.
Victor Jannin was the reserve last year and has got there on merit with good results all year, the big left-hander Sam Davis will play at three and played very well for us last year.
"Peter Lee is only 18 and is the seventh ranked amateur in New Zealand and plays at two for us in his debut at this tournament. He has outstanding potential.
"Brad Kendall is starting to play really well recently and he had good wins over top ranked players Vaughan McCool and Josh Munn in recent months.
"William is just 19 and is regarded as the biggest hitter in amateur golf in New Zealand. Last year at Omanu he drove through the green on number one and at the Grant Clements Memorial at the Mount, he twice drove the 18th green from the back tees.
"Once he gets his short game to match his long game he will be a champion. He is close to it and finished second at the Omanu Classic last week, so he is in form if any of the guys drop off.''
The Bay team have a key back-up group with them in Dunedin, including Tony Reynish, Owen and Pip Kendall, and Jackie McDonald.
Match play begins today at Balmacewen, New Zealand's oldest golf course, with the final on Saturday.
Bay of Plenty draw
Tuesday December 4
Round one bye
Round two v Poverty Bay _ East Coast
Wednesday December 5
Round three v Northland
Round four v North Harbour
Thursday December 6
Round five v Otago
Friday December 7
Round six v Tasman
Round seven v Canterbury