David Hamilton will be chasing a fourth Tamworth Golf Club Championship when the 2017 tournament tees off on Saturday morning.
Two hundred and 30 players have registered for the first round, which Tamworth Golf Club pro Scott Roworth said is a record number for the Choices-sponsored championships.
Staged over four 18-hole rounds, the first two will take place on the weekend with rounds three and four to be played the following Saturday and Sunday.
Hamilton goes in as the two-times defending champion after carding a two-over 211 in a rain-affected championships last year to claim back to back titles, after winning his first in 2012.
The championships had to be cut back to 54 holes after rain on the second Saturday.
Roworth said the course is in excellent condition with the rain last week and this week helping greatly.
Along with Hamilton, who play off a +1 handicap, he anticipates the other main chances to be two-times winner Ben Lockwood, 2001 champion Andrew Graham, John Trevaskis, Tom Gill and Nigel Robertson. Robertson and Graham will play off 1, and Lockwood, Trevaskis and Gill scratch (0).
Roworth said he is looking forward to a close competition this year, and is predicting Gill to give it a good shake this year.
The talented youngster has been playing pennants in Sydney most weekends for the last two years, which has sharpened his skills.
He was a nine-shot runner up to Hamilton last year, who carried a seven shot lead into the final round.
Trevaskis was another shot back in third.