Hodge has a target on his back
The winners of the previous four Manawatu-Wanganui Golf order of merit events, Tyler Hodge and Trent Munn, go head to head in the final event of the series.
Hodge, now ranked fourth in the country, will be the favourite for the Manawatu Open 36-hole tournament at Hokowhitu on Sunday.
The left-hander has taken maximum points from the three events he has contested this season, winning the Horowhenua Open and Challenge Cup, plus finishing as the highest placed district player when second equal in the LawnMaster Classic.
He has had a hectic schedule recently, playing for 12 consecutive days to finish 11th at the professional Carrus Open, captain his junior interprovincial side to third and the Shand Cup team to victory over Wellington, Taranaki and Hawke's Bay.
A field of more than 80 will compete for the comprehensive prize table but for the top players, the most important prize will be the order of merit points on offer.
These award the top two players after the event direct entry into the Toro national interprovincial team.
Hodge leads the race but is unavailable for the team because he will be playing at the Australian Open.
Recent Wanganui Open winner Munn is in a close second spot and is all but guaranteed an automatic position as long as he finishes in the top 15.
The remaining four playing positions will be hard won with the quality of players on display.
Josh Munn, who will miss the open, as well as Lachie McDonald, the Wellington strokeplay champion, should be two names already pencilled in by selectors Peter Bull and Russell McDonald.
This leaves two positions and a list of who's who chasing them.
Junior Tatana (Foxton) has returned to the representative scene and played well, recording top-fives in all the order of merit events.
He is second on the matchplay rankings after three wins from four representative matches this year.
Hayden Ring (Castlecliff) has the best representative matchplay record and his current position of five in the team gives him the inside running for fifth position.
Not lying down though, will be Willie Steer (Marton), who has played in the top five this season and has form on the Manawatu course.
Ewan Westergaard, who played in the interprovincial for more than a decade, will make the aforementioned players work hard to take his position away in the five-man team.
Having been a part of the team which won the national teams strokeplay crown in March, he would like nothing more than to be in the team to attempt the rare double of both national strokeplay and matchplay titles in one season.