On the eve of New Zealands most prestigious amateur event, Wellingtons Daniel Hillier is set to make history in an attempt to defend his Cobra Puma New Zealand Amateur Championship title this week.
Hosted by the famous Royal Wellington Golf Club, Hillier has the advantage of playing in his own backyard as the local looks to become only the ninth male golfer to accomplish the feat, which was most recently achieved by Australian Matt Jager in 2009 and 2010.
Established in 1893, the 19-year-old is excited to have the New Zealand Amateur at home with the chance to go back-to-back and be etched into golfing history.
"Alongside defending my title, its pretty awesome to have an event of this calibre at home. Its a world class golf course and Im sure everyone coming here will enjoy their time," said Hillier.
At only 17-years-old, Hillier was surprised by his win last year and believes he has progressed nicely since his 2015 victory.
"Last year was a little bit of a shock, but I have managed to keep trucking along and hopefully I can retain the trophy this week in my own backyard."
The list of past champions for the New Zealand Amateur Championship is an impressive one. Previous winners include Frank Nobilo, who took home the title back in 1978 at the age of only 18. Joining him is past Eisenhower Trophy winner, Phil Tautarangi, who added this achievement to his trophy cabinet in 1993, and finally, New Zealands current number one golfer, Danny Lee who won in 2007 before going on to win the US Amateur the following year.
These names inspire Hillier to continue striving for his dream highlighting this event can be a vital stepping stone to becoming a professional golfer.
"For me its about the history and the guys that have played it before me, theres a whole bunch of names on that trophy and a whole lot of guys that have gone on to be world class professionals. Its definitely a good event be a part of and hopefully we will see more world class golfers produced from it."
A swarm of talented players will be looking to ensure Hillier doesnt have it all his own way this week, the bulk of whom have recently returned from the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) in Korea, an event regarded as one of the biggest events on the globe.
Alongside Hillier is Luke Toomey, Nick Coxon, Ryan Chisnall and Luke Brown who will all be ones to watch after gaining vastly beneficial experience in Korea just three weeks ago.
With Royal Wellington set to host the prestigious AAC in 2017, the New Zealand Amateur date moved from earlier in the year as a chance to replicate next years event which will be broadcast to over 160 countries.
In the womens division, there is plenty of players putting their hand up yet it is hard to look past recent Harewood Open champion, Rose Zheng.
Zheng put on a clinical display to win last weeks Jennian Homes Charles Tour event by a dominant seven shots to announce herself as a contender, if not favourite, in Wellington this week.
Alanna Campbell returns to go one step further and use the experience of her gruelling 36-hole play-off in last years final. She was defeated by Julianne Alvarez who has gone on to have remarkable success at Washington State College in America where The Huskies won the NCAA Championship for the first time in their long history.
The best in the business will be in Wellington this week and whoever comes out on top would be a deserving winner after 36 holes of stroke play before they endure four rounds of knockout golf with the final being 36 holes, all against their friends and rivals.
First ball is struck at 7:30am, for full list of tee times: http://www.golf.co.nz/Tournaments/DrawTeeTime.aspx?competitionid=469215&competitionroundid=742992
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Golf NZ