Tim Wilkinson has long been one of New Zealand’s best performing golfers on the world stage but it has been just as long since he returned home to compete.

Forging a successful career on the PGA TOUR, Wilkinson’s playing priorities have been focused in the U.S. meaning that this week is the first time he has played competitively in New Zealand since 2007.

“These events, the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open and PGA, are right in the middle of the Florida swing. So it's the difference between driving four hours and flying 24 hours,” explained Wilkinson.

“It's just been bad timing for me over the last little while. So it's nice to be home and I'm looking forward to playing,” added Wilkinson, who has been playing on the Web.com Tour in 2018.

“I played four Web events and I had a three week break and these just happened to fall perfectly in the middle.

“I took a week off after playing in Colombia and then was able to come down here and play two events before I go back and play in Mexico.

“It's just a matter of timing and it worked out really well.”

Wilkinson has had a warm reception upon his return as he tees it up in the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship at Manawatu Golf Club where he grew up playing golf.

“It's been a long time since I've played a tournament here (Manawatu GC), probably 17 years, I actually won the South Island Amateur at this club,” added Wilkinson.

“It’s fun to be home, I know a lot of the members here and they have known me since I was 12 when I first started playing. So it's nice to see friendly faces.”

The host venue this week is also home to Wilkinson’s long term coach and NZ PGA Professional Andre White.

The pair spent quality time working on the range this morning, a rare occurrence in the long distance partnership.

“Andre works here and lives in Palmerston so it's been good to work with him the last few days as well,” added Wilkinson.

“I have worked with him for 22 years so we have a good relationship. He's helped me a lot over the years to really hone my game and work consistently on things and get a little bit better every year. That's always been the goal.

“Generally Andre comes over once a year, caddies at a couple of events and then we work at my home in Jacksonville. But most of the time we just use FaceTime.

“Technology's really helped a lot, I just set my tripod up on the range and he watches almost like he is there. He can't see ball flight but I can tell him what it's doing and it works well.”

Having grown up on the course, even winning an amateur event on the layout, Wilkinson is expected to play well but he says there are subtle differences that he needs to acquaint himself with.

“I know the course pretty well now but I wouldn't say very well,” added Wilkinson.

“Some of the tees have changed and there are some new bunkers since I used to play here a lot.

“But most of the greens are pretty much the same. It's just getting back the memory of what putts do and where to hit things and how the wind can blow. So working out how second shots play and how much longer they can play.

“Obviously there's pressure I put on myself to play well because I know how well I can play here but ultimately I just want to hit good shots and play as well as I can.”

While Tim will be the most famous Wilkinson on course this week, the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship is a family affair with his parents, Helen and Brian, forming part of the 80 strong volunteer workforce at the tournament this week.

“They like to give back to the game. Obviously the game has been good for all of us; they love doing it.

“They want to give back to the tournament and help out. They actually volunteered before I committed to come here to play.”

The Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship will be played at Manawatu Golf Club from 22-25 February.

Round one tee times will be made available on pga.org.au.

Entry to Manawatu Golf Club is free all week to the public.

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