PORT Macquarie Golf Club’s Better Homes Pro Am continues to grow in stature, reflected by the quality of this year’s field.
Among the 60 professionals who will hit off in the 36-hole event on Wednesday are two players who have won five Australian Masters between them.
Included in the mix are a couple of past winners of the Pro Am and several Seaside Classic champions, the club’s prestigious amateur event.
Craig Parry and Brad Hughes were team mates in the International squad during the 1994 President’s Cup and both will play on Wednesday.
Parry competed in the event last year for the first time and finished third despite not seeing the course before.
Hughes will make his debut.
The Australian Masters is one of the two most important events on the Australian golfing calendar, Parry has won it three times and Hughes, twice.
The other tournament is the Australian Open.
Parry has won all of Australia’s major events and also had two wins on the US PGA Tour as well as a number of victories in Europe and Asia.
He twice finished in the top 10 in the British Open and has a third place in the US Open to his credit.
Included in Hughes’ Australian Masters’ triumphs is a 24-shot win at Huntingdale in 1998.
This still stands as the biggest winning margin in the Masters.
Unfortunately last year’s Port Macquarie winner Ed Stedman will not be competing but the 2010 champion Neil Sarkies is back again.
Also in the field are the current leader of the NSW PGA Order of Merit Matthew Millar, last year’s overall Pro Am circuit winner Martin Dive and former Port Macquarie golfer Steve Jeffress, who is the current Queensland Order of Merit leader.
Leigh McKechnie has been coming to Port Macquarie since his amateur days and always finishes near the lead.
He will be trying to repeat his win of 2008.
Two of the past Seaside Classic winners competing are Brad McIntosh and Brendan Smith.
Nicky Henderson is the lone female in the field and she will play from the ladies’ tees.
The women’s course will be set to 90 per cent of the men’s.
Two former Wauchope golfers David Bransdon and Duane Kirwan both know their way around Port Macquarie course and they are expected to do well also.
Each professional will play with three amateurs and the field will hit off in two groups, one at 7am and the other at noon on each day.
It is the 21st consecutive year that Better Homes has sponsored the Pro Am and organisers are urging golfing fanatics to view the action on Wednesday and Thursday.