Tauranga professional Josh Geary made a name for himself when he won the Carrus Open in 2006 to be the first amateur to win on the Charles Tour.
It was a victory that showed his huge promise, and signalled that a successful professional career was on the horizon. That was confirmed when he won the Carrus for a second time in 2008 as a pro and then advanced to the Nationwide Tour (now Web.com Tour).
After a disappointing 2012 season, where he lost his status in the United States, Geary will return to the Charles Tour for the event at the Manawatu Golf Club from tomorrow to Sunday, looking to kick-start his career once again.
"The thing I enjoy about the Charles Tour is being able to compete at home in New Zealand and see some of the talent coming through the ranks," said the 28-year-old.
Geary headlines a field that includes two-time Charles Tour winner Troy Ropiha, 2003 NZ Open champion Mahal Pearce and seasoned professional Grant Moorhead. There are 49 professionals playing for the $40,000 prizemoney.
He has clear memories of his first victory on the Charles Tour.
"I hate to say it but making a 10 during the third round and losing my seven-shot lead on one hole is the thing that I remember the most," said Geary laughing.
"But also the final nine holes on Sunday when I holed a bunker shot on 10 for eagle and went from tied for the lead to winning by eight shots in nine holes."
He said the Charles Tour plays an important role in developing the amateur and professional talent in New Zealand.
"The Charles Tour helped me in the early stages of my pro career by bridging the gap slightly from amateur to professional, but to be honest there's still a major jump especially onto the international tours."
The former Eisenhower rep, who is managed by good mate Brad Heaven, has a great record playing in New Zealand. He was the leading Kiwi in the New Zealand Opens for four years running from 2008-2011.
After enduring a frustrating season Geary is focused again and looking to gain a tour card and play as much as possible.
He has status on the PGA Tour of Australasia and will play events in Australia in the lead-up to the New Zealand PGA Championship.
Following that he'll return to America to play Monday qualifiers and try to regain status on the Web.com tour. He also wants to play on the Canadian Tour so he has a solid tour to play on in between Web.com Tour qualifiers. "My goals are to win on all three tours this season [Australasian, Canadian, web.com]."
He finished 2012 with good results at the Australian Open and the Australian PGA where he placed tied 51st and tied 32nd respectively.
"Those results did give me a good confidence boost after a rough year and just confirmed what I had been working on all year with my swing was the right move, it just took a little longer than expected to kick in."
He'll look to put that work into action at a course he is looking forward to getting reacquainted with.
"I haven't played much at Manawatu, maybe two Lawnmasters [tournaments] back in the day. I fly into New Zealand Thursday morning too so won't get to see the course before I play Thursday as I'm playing the British Open qualifier.
"It would mean a lot to win another Charles Tour title, any win is special and with the bonus of it being on home soil, it would give me some confidence heading into this season."
- © Fairfax NZ News