The PGA of New Zealand’s local Pro-Am circuit starts again this weekend, with the Mondiale Omaha Beach Pro-Am. The season continues through until early May, with nearly $300,000 in prize money up for grabs.
We also preview this week’s two PGA Tour events, and the LPGA Tour which sees Lydia Ko defending her Kia Classic title in Carlsbad, California.
Mondiale Omaha Beach Pro-Am
This event goes from strength to strength each year, and this weekend 56 professionals will compete for a $30,000 purse over 36 holes. The star turn will undoubtedly be 2017 NZ Open champion Michael Hendry, followed closely by 2017 Queensland PGA champion Daniel Pearce. However, the likes of Harry Bateman, Mark Brown, Josh Geary, Nick Gillespie, David Klein, Grant Moorhead, Kieran Muir, Gareth Paddison, Brad Shilton and Fraser Wilkin are sure to have something to say as well in this extremely strong field.
Here’s hoping the weather holds on Saturday and Sunday, and also early next week for the Barfoot & Thompson Warkworth Pro-Am on Monday, followed by the Partners Life Pro-Am at Mangawhai on Tuesday.
You can follow the scores and action on www.pga.org.nz
The “main event” is undoubtedly the WGC Dell Technologies World Matchplay Championship in Austin, Texas, which is already underway with round robin matches played in groups of four. With Danny Lee not in the field in his current home town, the main New Zealand connection is 2016 NZ Open runner-up Hideto Tanihara.
The “consolation prize” is the Puerto Rico Open – not to be sneezed at though, as this is where Jordan Spieth kickstarted his PGA career with a 2nd placing in 2013. All three NZ PGA tour players: Danny Lee, Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson are playing in this, and given the absence of the world’s top 64 players in Austin, Danny could come close to winning this on recent form.
The Coco Beach Golf and Country Club course, being right by the Atlantic Ocean with constant sea breezes a major factor on most of the holes, could also suit links specialist Steven Alker.
Lydia won this event last year with a -19 score, and must be a chance again, particularly if she can get off to a faster start. The organisers have grouped her with last week’s winner Anna Nordqvist, and runner-up Stacy Lewis, so there is plenty for all three players to think about from Round 1. There is live coverage on SS 55 from 11.00am tomorrow.