It will be a homecoming for Wilkinson who has spent the last decade plying his trade on the PGA Tour and the Tour, based in Florida.

Ironically it has been the loss of his PGA Tour status that has opened the door for Wilkinson to return for the NZPGA Championship and also the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.

“I am excited to be able to play in New Zealand. For around 10 years of my golfing prime I’ve not been able to because of my schedule,” said Wilkinson.

The NZPGA Championship has clashed with the Florida swing of the US PGA Tour, with the run of tournaments all within close driving distance of his home, and a strong early-season start has been a key to a successful season.

Wilkinson, 39, is looking at opportunities that playing in New Zealand might present, as he chases more starts in the ISPS Handa Tour of Australasia and beyond.

“Obviously I am disappointed not to be playing the PGA Tour in 2018 but I still feel some of my best golf is ahead of me. If I can get into tournaments in Australia as well it may open some doors in other events or play a different Tour. I am definitely more open to it.”

He is also looking forward to returning to play at the Manawatu Golf Club where he learned the game.

“I am excited. It’s been a while. I have won quality amateur tournaments there – the Lawnmaster Classic and the North Island Strokeplay in 1999-2000. Hopefully I can repeat the scores I shot back then, that would be nice.”

Wilkinson, who has won nearly NZ$7 million in career earnings, forms a unique trio with fellow professionals Craig Perks and Grant Waite, who have gained success on the PGA Tour after learning the game at the Manawatu Golf Club.

“It is amazing for such a small town and a small golf club to produce three players on the PGA Tour, which is something you don’t see in the US.

“The year that Craig won the Players Championship, he came home and we played a lot of golf together. We see eachother in his commentary roles for television.

“And I have known Grant for a long time. We first met when I was 12 and did some chipping practice together. I talk to him often and know his sons well.”

Wilkinson said he is buoyant about his future after not taking making the most of his opportunities this year.

“My short game was as good as it has ever been this year but I just didn’t make as many putts from 10 to 18 feet. I had a lot of birdie opportunities but just didn’t make as many putts in bunches like I have done in the past.

“If just a couple of putts to drop here and there it would be a different story with your confidence and may be finishing a couple of tournaments off and finishing higher. When you play well you just want finish as high as you can and gain as many points as possible that is the biggest thing.”

But he is looking forward to a return to home turf and keen to show his skills developed in the last 10 years on the world’s toughest tests of golf.