SouthlandSport editor Nathan Burdon

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Southland golfers finish strongly at NZ Masters tournament

A staggering final round has seen Southland climb to a fourth-placed finish at the New Zealand Women's Masters golf tournament at the Inglewood Golf Club.

Southland produced the best round of the four-round, three day tournament with 98 points in the final round, but it wasn't enough to haul in Waikato, which has won the tournament for the third time.

While disappointed to not be on the medal table, along with the best team score today, Robyn Pullar had the only par-round of the tournament with a 68 today.

Birdies on the par 4, 3rd and par 3, 8th, her only blemishes being bogeys on the par 3, 2nd and the par 3, 12th. Southland’s captain Robyn Boniface demonstrated yet again her revered consistency claiming the Canterbury Shield for the best overall individual, with 126 points, for a record seventh time.

Arguably spurred on by last year’s disappointing 4th equal placing on home soil in Ngaruawahia, Waikato led in all four rounds of the 3-day tournament.

Captain Jill Morgan was the top scorer with 122 personal points. However, her 27 gross stableford points today, were not needed when her three team mates had scores on the board totalling 90, enough to seal the win. The format of the tournament, which has not changed in 27 years is based on the cumulative total of the best three scores, gross stableford points, per team of four, per round, over four rounds.

The win today was Waikato’s third, previous wins being in 2013 and some years ago in 2005. The team total while the best on the tough short Inglewood course, was some 23 points lower than the 2017 winning score, posted by Northland.

There was some scepticism on the selection of the Inglewood course which is infamous for its numerous par-3’s and only two par-5’s, making par for the course only 68. Water hazards feature on all but one hole and with tight lies, it proved a challenge for many of the 56 district master players assembled for the 2018 Championship.

However, it would be fair to say that Morgan, along with team mates, Robyn Pellow, Julie Gee, Pam Wright and travelling reserve Sian Stevenson, won’t be too bothered about the stat’s and comparisons, the Russell Grace Trophy is there’s for another twelve months.

Northland, chasing back to back wins, had to settle for second place, six shots back with 350 points. No 1 Kylie Jacoby, the anchor of the team with 125 points, but like Waikato, all four players contributed to the team’s total.

Prior to 2017, Northland had not featured in the prize table but they have proved over the last two years, they are a team to be reckoned with. Jacoby, Alayna Cox, Jo Taylor and Jenny Peters now have a silver NZ Golf medal to sit alongside their gold won last year.

Jacoby along with partner Nathan is the current NZ Mixed Foursomes Champion and is set to defend this title in Maraenui over Labour Weekend in October.

Rocketing up the team placings was North Harbour who finished in 9th place in 2017, but this year, take home the bronze medal for third place. Team Harbour, Vaha Fapiano, Pam Sowden, Lynda Tate, Fleur Reynolds along with travelling reserve Annette Muir, also scored 350 points. Tournament conditions, dictate that the non-counting card was to be factored in the event of a tie, and so for 2018, they settle for 3rd. However, a huge change in form and one of the biggest jumps in team placings – arguably another team, that came to love their Inglewood experience.

Only one point behind was Southland that had a rare ‘blow-out’ in yesterday’s second round but today showed again, the force they are, scoring the best round of any team over the tournament. Going from 2nd place after the first round, a tumble to 8th in round two, a solid third round and a stunning 98 points today, they finish in 4th place for 2018.

Auckland started the day in 3rd place overall but will settle for 5th place with a team score of 345, down two places from the 2017 team standings. The Bay of Plenty posted 339 points, 6th place, a finish that is also down on their 2nd placing in 2017.

The remaining eight districts jostled today for placing and finished with a mix of results. Aorangi, with 334 points, 7th place in 2018, compared to 4th equal in 2017. Taranaki despite solid daily performances could not match the likes of Waikato, finishing in 8th place, with 331 points, no change from their 2017 result.

Hawkes Bay / Poverty Bay finished with 319 points, 9th placing, compared with 7th in 2017, two shots ahead of their close rivals, Manawatu / Wanganui. In 10th place, Manawatu / Wanganui jump one place from their 2017 11th finish.

Wellington finished in 11th place, up one from 2017 results, on 309 points, one point ahead of Otago who started with a clear goal of improving their 2017 bottom place. They achieved this jumping two places to 12th, with a total of 308 points.

Canterbury have gone backwards, down 3 places to 13th for a district that has won the tournament 5-times, their last win 18 years ago, while Tasman have finished at the bottom this year. The tournament is due by venue rotation to be held in Tasman, so hopefully Tracy Bary and her team can boost their standing with a home advantage in 2019.

Changes for Challenge Wanaka

Changes for Challenge Wanaka

Day of contrasts for Southland golf team