Confidence is high for Northland's top men's golfers just days out from the 2020 national interprovincial tournament in Auckland.
The Northland team of Brad Bonnington, Kadin Neho, Christian Nitche, Alex Neely, Richard Squire and Sheldon Kearns will be strong contenders in the 15-team tournament, played from Monday to Saturday at the Whitford Park Golf Club.
Northland prowess at a national level was recognised in 2018 at the same tournament when the Northland team of Luke Brown, Dale Clarke, Taylor Gill, Neely, Neho and Bonnington won - a first for Northland in the tournament's 68-year history.
Two years on, Bonnington said there was a real chance of Northland claiming their second victory after recent performances.
"I'd say we're feeling pretty confident based off the performance of the Garrard Shield," he said.
The Garrard Shield is an annual competition between senior teams from Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Last year was the first time Northland won the shield outright and the northerners replicated their efforts this year, beating Auckland for the title.
Northland also challenged hard for the Ralph Cup - for by under-19 players - but were beaten by Auckland in the final.
Bonnington, who was ruled out of the Garrard Shield team with a sprained thumb, said the win was a fantastic effort against some high class opponents.
"The top order really stood up in that event and we came away with the win, which is pretty good against Waikato, who have a really strong team, Auckland are always strong and Bay of Plenty have a strong top order."
Bonnington highlighted the performance of the junior team, referencing their potential.
"Auckland have a pretty strong junior squad and [Northland] just got pipped but the junior boys have been doing really well.
"There was a [time] there when people were a little bit worried about junior golf in Northland, but the juniors that we've got coming through, they're playing well and they're enthusiastic."
Northland's Interprovincial's team will miss Luke Brown, who turned professional last year, and Dale Clarke, who won't make the tournament due to work commitments.
While he accepted Clarke and Brown's absence would be a loss, Bonnington said Nitche's form in recent local competitions and Squire's experience as a former professional would put the team in good stead.
Fortunately, Northland were on a slightly easier side of the draw for the round-robin, avoiding strong teams in Auckland, North Harbour and Waikato.
While those stronger teams would likely feature in the tournament's final stages, Bonnington was confident the team could challenge for the title on familiar turf.
"We've played Whitford numerous times and the course is always in great condition out there ... I think the team's pretty solid."
To stay updated with Northland's progression, visit www.golf.co.nz.