Former Taranaki Open champion Mark Brown showed he was in the right form for this year's event with a hole-in-one in yesterday's pro-am at the New Plymouth Golf Club.
Brown aced the par-three ninth, hitting a six-iron shot into the wind on the 147m hole by the new clubhouse.
It bounced once and went straight into the cup for what Brown believed was his seventh career hole-in-one. "It was the best shot I have hit all day, the only one that has gone straight – straight in the hole," joked the 36-year-old from Wellington.
"It looked good the whole way.
"I'd obviously rather have it tomorrow but it is always a buzz to see them go in, an awesome feeling."
Brown will tee off today as one of the favourites for the Taranaki Energy Open – a Charles Tour event.
Brown has spent the past three years on the European Tour and returns to where his professional career resurgence began after he won the event in New Plymouth six years ago.
He rediscovered his self-belief when he claimed the Taranaki Open in 2006, when the local tour was known as the Golf Tour of New Zealand.
From there he went on to win the NZ PGA Order of Merit, which enabled him to play the PGA Tour of Australasia and in turn on the Asian Tour where he claimed the Sail Open and then the Johnnie Walker Classic in India to secure his European Tour card.
He saw this event as a turning point in his career.
"About a month before I won this tournament, I had given up work to play golf fulltime, so it was a bit of a leap of faith.
"It was a real kick-start to the confidence and to make some money at that time was helpful."
After finishing in a share of second at the New Zealand PGA Pro-Am at The Hills recently, Brown is looking forward to playing the links of Ngamotu in New Plymouth.
"I have been coming here for years and playing this tournament before it was a Charles Tour event. It is always a great golf course and the Taranaki Golf Association has always supported New Zealand golfers, so it's great to be back here and support them."
Brown has a good record in New Plymouth. He was runner-up in 2004, won the event in 2006 and was runner-up again in 2007.
"I seem to like it around here and hopefully we can have another good week."
- © Fairfax NZ News