LEGENDS Tour regular and five time European Tour winner Mike Harwood has played on thousands of golf courses around the globe and at home in Australia over his 40 year career but he admits Coffs Harbour is one layout he hasn’t played.
“I’ve driven through Coffs Harbour many times over the years but I’ve never played there,” Harwood said.
“I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a beautiful part of the world.”
Harwood will be playing at Coffs Harbour Golf Club on Thursday and Friday as part of the field for the Geoff King Motors North Coast Open.
The top three finishers in the 36-hole tournament will qualify to play in next year’s NSW Open and the $50,000 total prize purse has attracted a great field.
Harwood said he hasn’t played in a tournament in more than a year after surgery on his arm and then COVID-19 restricted how much he’s been able to play in that time.
He knows the winner probably needs to shoot 5-under or 6-under both days to get the winner’s cheque and the 61 year-old is unsure he’ll be able to produce that first up after such a long layoff from tournament golf.
“If I could finish in the top-20 in my first event back that would be great,” he said.
“If I have a special couple of days, I might do better than that.”
Other international winners to join Harwood in the North Coast Open field will be Marcus Fraser, Sam Brazel, Matthew Griffin and Adam Bland.
Fraser is a three time winner on the European Tour, Bland won the 2015 Japanese PGA title, while Griffin won the 2016 New Zealand Open and three other events on the Korean Tour.
Coming from Lismore, the 2016 Hong Kong Open champion Brazel should generate plenty of local interest.
Local golf fans who join the galleries on Coffs Harbour’s fairways and greens will see some familiar faces playing.
Coffs Harbour professional Jack Pountney will be joined by North Coast Amateur Open winner Jason Barby and fellow locals Aden Louez, Billy Flanagan, Harry McMillan and Logan Toms.
Pountney said for him and the other locals playing on their home course is exciting as it gives them a chance to play in front of friends and family and enjoy the support of club members.
There’s the obvious added benefit as well.
“Having the tournament on your home track is a pretty big advantage as it allows you to be comfortable around the course,” the left hander said.
“There’s some big name players playing, it’s a really strong field so being at home will be a big help.”
By Brad GREENSHIELDS