Michael Hendry takes on stars in Melbourne
The biggest month on the Australasian tour calendar starts today, with 15 New Zealanders lining up in an Australian Masters field that includes European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.
Michael Hendry spearheads the New Zealand charge at Kingston Heath in Melbourne's famed sandbelt, with the Kiwi looking to build on a sizeable lead in the PGA Tour of Australasia's order of merit with another solid showing this week.
In finishing fourth in a strong field at the Perth International last month, the North Harbour professional boosted his earnings from five events on tour this year to $164,233.
Compatriot Mark Brown, who will play alongside Hendry in today's opening round, is a distant second with $56,537. However, the big money tournaments are about to begin.
The Masters has a prize purse of $1 million, while the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship on successive weeks early next month are both worth $1.25m.
There is also next week's New Zealand Open at Clearwater in Christchurch, which is worth $400,000.
Englishman Poulter, the defending champion who is in fine nick coming off a World Golf Championships win at the HSBC Champions in China and a starring role in the Ryder Cup at Medinah, and 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, from Northern Ireland, headline the international big names.
World No 5 Adam Scott gives the Australian tournament some local star power.