New Zealand professional golfer Danny Lee is readying for his 2019 season and thinking of home.
The 28-year-old turned professional 10 years ago after a stellar amateur career which saw him become the number one ranked amateur in the world while based in Rotorua playing out of the Springfield Golf Club.
This weekend Springfield GC will host the annual Danny Lee Springfield Golf Open, a 54-hole tournament Lee has supported since he turned professional.
"I valued my time learning the game in New Zealand at Springfield and I'm proud to support an opportunity for young players to gain important experience," Lee said from his Dallas base.
"I'm working hard on my game at the moment and can't wait to get back out on the PGA Tour in January."
He's started the 2019 season well with two top 10 finishes from four starts and currently sits 11th on the season long FedExCup standings (31/12/2018). He expects to tee it up in Hawaii for the Sony Open on January 10-13.
"The tour is the best in the world, every tournament is hard fought and I want to bring my best to the course in 2019."
Since turning professional Lee has won once on the PGA Tour, played in the Presidents Cup and Olympics, and currently holds a world ranking of 94. He has now played 201 times at the highest level and has amassed career earnings of US$10,853,781.
Lee has fond memories of his time growing up in New Zealand where he won bundles of tournaments and titles, including the Springfield Open now in its 14th consecutive year.
"Danny's support is crucial to putting this event on for the young ones coming through now," said tournament director Craig Tiriana.
"It is the highlight of our club programme and enables us to continue with Danny's legacy to support New Zealand, Bay of Plenty and Rotorua golf."
"With the New Zealand Maori (Taupo) and Mid-amateur (Omanu) championships both being played in the Bay of Plenty next week, this gives many players a great chance to get an early competitive outing.''
This weekend is shaping up to be another strongly contested event for World Amateur Golf Ranking points in both the men's and women's fields.
It appears an Auckland versus Wellington shootout should decide the female contest with former winner Brittney Dryland (Titirangi) on +3 handicap, Grace Jung (Remuera) +2 and Darae Chung (Shandon) +4.8 heading that division.
Aucklander Jang Hyun Lee (Titirangi) is the low marker in the men's division on +4.5 handicap. Competition should come from Jimmy Zheng (Howick) on +4.5 and James Hyde (Gulf Harbour) +3.8.
Te Puke's Harry Hillier on +2.1 is back from the University of Kansas and should also feature.
The best hope for a local winner is James Tauariki (Springfield) on a +3.1 handicap. The 16-year-old has been in strong form during the past 12 months, cracking the Bay of Plenty senior side for the first time and shooting a remarkable 13-under par 57 on Springfield's par 70 layout during 2018.
Play gets under way on Saturday from 7.30am with rounds one and two. The third and final round starts at 8.30am Sunday with the winners expected to finish about 2pm.