When Shaun Jones was here this time last year he had to secure a paper (first) wedding anniversary gift for his Switzerland-born wife, Anita.

Yesterday, the Christchurch professional golfer returned to Napier Golf Club simply to win enough money on the New Zealand PGA Tour to recoup travel costs while on a six-week holiday in the country.

"That was the goal, to be honest - come over and get my airfares back, which is about three grand," said the 32-year-old who now resides in the capital city of Bern while plying his trade in the Alps Tour.

Jones made it a back-to-back titles when he won the 18-hole Duke of Gloucester Pro-am Tournament, after claiming the inaugural crown last year, with close to $2000 (before-tax) in prizemoney.


He carded a sizzling six-under-par 66 to finish a stroke ahead of Woonchul Na, of Auckland, while New Plymouth Golf Club professional Brad Hayward was third on four-under 68.

He started "slowly with a few pars" but went on a five-birdie blitz from holes No 1 to 5 to finish with seven birdies, 10 pars and a bogey on the par-4 No10 hole, the only blemish on his card.

"That birdie blitz sort of turned my two-under par into seven under and then, unfortunately, I made a bogey in my second-last hole."

A grinning Jones said birdie blitzes like that didn't happen as often as professionals would have liked but, when they did, they were immensely satisfying.

In the PGA New Zealand Open last year, he was eight under after eight holes in the second round to finish tied for fifth.

"It's nice to get back in the summer time. It's snowing in Switzerland so I can't really practice there so it's nice to come here to get the season off to a nice start," he said after settling in Anita's hometown of Bern nine months ago.

His first major tournaments are in Cairo, Egypt, from February 13.

"I fly back to Switzerland for three days then fly out to Egypt for 13 days for two events there."


Jones is indebted to his sponsors, Lincoln Farms, and Phoenix.

"Any win's good," he said when asked where the humble pro-am circuit here sits in the scheme of things when juxtaposed with the Alps Tour (Australia, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland).

However, he found the NZPGA circuit the ideal tune up for shooting low scores because straying from it meant no dough.

Even a six-under like yesterday, he said, often wasn't good enough to claim a title.

"Sometimes you've got to look at eight or nine [under], depending on who's here."

He also won an NZPGA leg in 2016.

The Cantabrian was coming off third from the Harcourts Taupo Pro-am on Sunday, two strokes behind amateur Tae Koh, of Auckland, had won with a seven-under 65.

Yesterday Koh, of Whitford Park Golf Club, had to settle for a three-way tie with professionals Oscar Cadenhead and Troy Rophia on one-under-par 71 in ninth place.

Although the greens were "a touch on the slow side" to what he preferred, he gave the Waiohiki course a big tick.

"If you had a putt on line then it was going in. It was slow so you could push that little bit of break a little bit harder, which is something you like to do when you're on a birdie run."

Jones was happy to hit a lot of greens in regulation shots to within 3 to 4 metres to sink the putts.

"I'd put it down to my putter today, which is the first time in a while."

He didn't put himself under too much strife with his driver, finding he could spray a little and get away with it.

"I probably hit half of my fairways and the other half I got away with."

Jones said the Alps Tour was just a case of putting the ball in the hole like anywhere else but the depth in the field of about 140 was the major difference.

"All due respect to the New Zealand tour, the superstars here can compete over there but there's a lot more superstars over there."

He played a dozen events, including the grand final, he made at least five cuts although he stressed to move up the leaderboard there one had to win.

Jones works with his mental coach, Scott Ritchie, of Christchurch, with some exciting changes, focusing on pre-shot and post-shot routines.

Jones, who lost in the national amateur semifinal matchplay tourney at the Hastings Golf Club to Matt Jager, of Australia, in 2010, lauded his support crew.

"If I didn't have them I wouldn't be able to play this game especially in Europe where last year I spent 10,000 euros and made only 6000," he said, setting sights on the European Tour although finding himself at the British Open "would be unbelievable".

At his age, fatherhood beckons and he's "looking forward to it".

Na, of Auckland, who also shot 71 here last year, was satisfied.

"I came out to win but I didn't have a good start today," said the 25-year-old who started with a birdie on No17 but scored his only bogey in the next hole.

Na lamented his putter going off the boil.

"It was the strongest part of my game so it was letting me down. I didn't hole any putts. I just got them on the green for two and got them really close," the fifth-year professional said, adding he was playing on the South Korean Tour where greens were slick.

Pieter Zwart, now based in Auckland, was the best of the Bay campaigners on 70 (seventh equal with Harry Bateman). He also leads the order of merit with 4500 points. Kieran Muir is second on 2538.33.

Daniel Pearce, of Hastings, shot 72 to finish 12th equal with Lachie McDonald, Sam An and Justin Morris.

Napier club professional Andrew Henare carded 73 to finish 16th equal with Te Pohue professional and new dad Douglas Holloway and Dean Sipson.