Geoff Ogilvy may be enjoying a self-described gap year but he insists the competitive fires will be blazing at this week's 100th New Zealand Open near Queenstown.
Ogilvy is among 65 Australians who make up nearly half the field of professionals at The Hills and Millbrook Resort courses that play host to the $1.2 million Pro-Am tournament.
While most of his rivals are pursuing prize money and ranking points on the Australasian and Asian Tours, the event has more personal meaning for the 41-year-old former US Open champion.
After nearly two decades based in the United States, Ogilvy has moved back to Melbourne to devote more time to his family and take the chance to play in some bucket-list events.
The New Zealand Open is one of them and he's determined it won't just be the picturesque scenery that he takes away from the week.
"Professional golf for me is fun when you are in contention and feeling it, especially those last nine holes coming down the stretch on Sunday," he said.
RIGHT: Ogilvy moved his family home to Australia last year and hopes to play more events like the New Zealand Open. PHOTO: Michael Dodge/Getty Images.
"I have always wanted to play more here but it is hard when you have an $8 million tournament and this is your job. It is difficult to travel 24 hours around the world to play in a little one because you want to."
Ogilvy's poor form of 2018 on the PGA Tour has continued in Australia this month, having struggled for consistency at the Vic Open and the World Super 6 Perth event.
He said progress on the practice fairway has boosted his confidence.
Ogilvy is one of three former major winners in the field, alongside Kiwi veteran Michael Campbell and Korean Y.E. Yang.
The last seven NZ Open champions are back, with six of them from Australia.
Last year, Queenslander Daniel Nisbet stormed to victory after starting the final round six shots back.
Nisbet is in form, coming off a comfortable win at last week's Queensland PGA.
The leading Kiwi hope is Ryan Fox, who claimed victory at Perth this month, pushing his world ranking to a career-best 66th; the highest in the field of 152.
- Daniel Gilhooly, Australian Associated Press