Reigning New Zealand PGA champion Brad Kennedy is well prepared to defend his title on a different course to which he won last year.
The 2017 Lawnmaster Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship has had a change of venue from Remuera Golf Club in Auckland to Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North.
With wind turbines dotting the mountains surrounding the town, the field of 132 is under no illusion in regards to the gusty conditions Palmerston North is known for.
“I love playing in the wind, the tougher the better for me and I’ve heard some great reports about the course,” Kennedy said. “It’s tight and a little bit short but it’s going to be very difficult if it does get windy so yardage control is going to be important, which is one of the strengths of my game.”
The Queenslander took out the event last year by two shots from Neven Basic and Josh Geary, his second win in New Zealand.
“I’m looking forward to defending, it’s not often you get to defend so when you do it’s a great opportunity to try and go back-to-back.”
Kennedy clearly enjoys playing in the conditions across the ditch; his first win on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia came in 2011 at the New Zealand Open.
“It’s a great place to come and play golf, they really look after you and the courses are always in great condition at this time of year. It’s a little bit cooler than back in Australia which is nice as well.”
Kennedy will play the Manawatu course for the first time today but is confident he’ll have a good grasp of the layout by the time round one tees off tomorrow.
“I’ll get out there today (yesterday) and play nine holes then have the pro-am tomorrow. That’ll give me a good chance to look around. I think this sort of course will be dictated by the breeze.”
After the 2017 Lawnmaster Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship, Kennedy will compete in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown at The Hills Golf Course and Millbrook Resort, then it’s back to Australia to compete in yet another event he has won in the past, the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship. Playing three events in a row is the perfect preparation for Kennedy as he prepares for the beginning of the Japan Tour where he has tasted success twice, in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
“The Japan Tour starts in six weeks so this will give three weeks worth of lead-up to that and then a few weeks off to sort of work out where I need to improve and get my game ready for Japan.”
The winner of the $NZ125,000 NZ PGA Championship will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and become fully exempt on to the PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of this season plus a further season.