Top-class international golf comes to Omanu Golf Club today when the IBM/A1 Homes Senior Pro-Am begins at 12.30pm.
The high-quality event is one of eight on the New Zealand PGA Seniors Pro-Am circuit and teeing up are 62 senior golf professionals (all aged 50 plus) chasing the first prize in the $10,000 event. An equal number of amateur golfers will compete in a separate teams event with the professionals as their partners.
The field includes three world class players in Wanganui's Simon Owen and Australians Peter Fowler and Roger Davis.
Owen won several tournaments in Australasia and played on the European Tour from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, winning the 1974 German Open and the 1976 Double Diamond Individual Championship. His best finish on the European Tour Order of Merit was 11th in 1974 and his best finish in a major was the 1978 British Open, when he finished tied for second behind Jack Nicklaus.
Fowler spent a large part of his career playing on the European Tour, where he made the top 100 on the order of merit every year from 1983 to 1993, with a best ranking of 22nd in 1989.
Davis won the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit in 1990 and 1991 and his seven European Tour wins include the British PGA Championship and the Volvo Masters. He was ranked in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings for 29 weeks between 1987 and 1992.
Omanu Golf Club manager, Barry Plank, says the course is in great condition considering the present drought.
"Our full course watering system provides a great covering of grass on both the tees and all of our fairways. The greens staff have been working tirelessly to present the greens in top condition for the Pro-Am day which for the players it will be like putting on a carpet, very similar to the greens you see on television.
"The Legends Pro-Am is a great club day that allows our members to mix with some of the games best players over the past 30 or 40 years. Some even have the opportunity to play with their golfing idols which as you can imagine is a once in a lifetime opportunity"
Omanu's head professional, Brent McKay, says the event and its format came about as the result of an idea floated by a close friend of former club professional Allan Snape, who was an avid supporter of pro-ams, being a former tour player himself.
"It was decided that it would be a fitting tribute to the legacy that he left behind with his passing."
Last year's winning scores were five under par 67s by ex-touring professionals from Australia, Mike Harwood and Mike Fergusson.