Jarryd Felton, a two-time winner on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, will defend a title this week for the first time at the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship.

Still the reigning New South Wales PGA champion (an event last played in 2015), Felton returns to Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North with fond memories of his victory last year.

“I’m feeling pretty happy to be back here, I have a lot of good memories, especially of how I played on the back nine last year and obviously in the playoff,” said Felton, who defeated Josh Younger and Ben Campbell in extra holes after he fired a final round of four-under 67 in 2017. “Coming down the stretch I was pretty solid and I was playing with Josh (Younger) as well. So it was really good play.

“Winning once, people kind of think it’s a fluke but winning twice kind of showed everyone – and me – that I’m good enough to do it. So lots of good memories and hopefully I do it again this week.”

Having re-acquainted himself with the course in a practice round yesterday, playing alongside Rory Bourke and against James and Anthony Marchesani, Felton remembered why the layout suited his game and even got his first win for the week in the friendly match.

“I had some good company in the practice round and we took the money off the boys, so I already have a little ‘W’ on the board this week,” Felton said. “I just love this course and everything about the place. It’s really tight so it’s a really good ball-striker’s course. If you hit the greens you can have good chance to birdie. I did that in the practice round and hopefully I can do it the rest of the week.”

While lifting the trophy again is on Felton’s mind, so too is the European Tour as he focuses his 2018 season around preparing for a tilt at European qualifying school later in the year.

“I know I held the trophy last year but it’s just another tournament, really. We’re all just out here trying to play well,” Felton said. “I played well at the Vic Open and in Perth; I just didn’t do enough to make the third-round cuts and then I played pretty poorly last week. I’m trying to work on a few things, on and off the golf course, to get everything all tip-top ready for European tour school at the end of the year.

Felton will have extra motivation to play well this week after watching his girlfriend, Hannah Green, finish tied for third at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open last week.

“She’s definitely kicking my butt,” joked a clearly competitive Felton. “She’s playing really well and she deserves it, she has put a lot of hard work in and it just shows that she can do it.”

Felton will tee off in his NZ PGA Championship title defence at 12.30pm local time tomorrow alongside Kiwis Mark Brown and Tim Wilkinson.