Twelve months ago Denzel Ieremia entered the 100th New Zealand Open as a new pro with just one professional tournament under his belt.
In 2020 the 24-year-old Kiwi now has five top-10 finishes to his name on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, a T4 finish on the Asian and Japan Golf Tours and two top-25 results on the Korn Ferry Tour.
For the former college golfer from Iowa State University, the landscape could not be more different.
“It’s good to be back. I didn’t play my best last year, I missed the cut but I look back at it and think that if I didn’t miss the cut I wouldn’t have played good for the rest of the year,” Ieremia said.
“It was a huge learning week for me (and) despite the result last year I think it’s prepared me for this time.
“My form is good. I’ve been playing nicely for the last six or seven months and I’ve been learning something every week. Hopefully I’ll do the same this week.”
While lessons learned on the golf course have been pivotal to transforming Ieremia’s game from amateur to pro, like many new Professionals the lessons off the course have best prepared him for a busy 2020 season.
“Professional golf has been a little bit different compared to college,” he said. “You’re on your own in professional golf where in college you have someone booking everything and paying for everything.”
“In Professional golf you’ve got a lot more accountability and I think the thing that comes along with it is more drive to win.”
Hailing from Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island, winning a home Open would mean the world but Ieremia will first have to overcome the challenges that the Millbrook Resort and The Hills golf courses present.
“I think Millbrook suits me a little more than The Hills,” he admitted. “At The Hills you’ve kind of got to plod it around a little bit more and do your scoring with your irons whereas (at) Millbrook I can get a few more drivers in my hand and take advantage of my length so I’ll look to do that this week.
“You’ve got to be patient around here. There’s a lot of birdies but at the same time if you push too hard, your margins can vary and you can miss. For me I’ll stay patient and be aggressive off the tee and see what happens.”
The New Zealand Open provides a unique opportunity for ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour players to rub shoulders with amateur players from around the world in a pro-am format.
Well-known sports stars will feature in the amateur line-up including Australian cricket star Shane Warne as well as Kiwi stars Jeff Wilson and Beauden Barrett.
The 101st New Zealand Open, presented by Sky Sport, will begin at Millbrook Resort and The Hills on Thursday 27 February with the final round to be played on Sunday 1 March.
Watch the broadcast live on Kayo and Fox Sports from Thursday. For the full broadcast schedule visit pga.org.au.