Golf: Lee unbeaten in Bay win

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Bay of Plenty continued their remarkable record at the Toro Men's Interprovincial by winning the title for the seventh time in 11 years at the Otago Golf Club.

It was a gripping final between the Bay and Manawatu/Wanganui, which went to a playoff between the number four players Victor Janin (BOP) and Junior Tatana (Manawatu).

They halved the first in pars, as both players showed nerves under the pressure, before Rotorua's Janin took the advantage at the second playoff hole.

He hit his approach shot to within 1.5m of the hole in the decisive moment of the final.

Tatana's chip shot finished 4m short of the hole and when he missed his par attempt, Janin made his birdie putt to win the title for Bay of Plenty.

His jubilant teammates charged the green to celebrate the unlikely come-from-behind win.

"That was the most nervous I have ever been playing golf," said the 21-year-old Janin.

"To go on and win in the playoff was a huge moment - the best of my golf career without a doubt.

"This week has been an awesome experience and to win makes it even better.

Team manager Aaron Walsh, from Tauranga, said they talked about being brave and showing courage all week. "Those were the two key words, and Victor showed that for us when it mattered most in the final.

"We have had some lucky moments along the way but there is no doubt that this team deserves everything they get."

Bay of Plenty had their 18-year-old No 2, Peter Lee, to thank for getting past a resolute Southland in the semifinal.

The Rotorua golfer was undefeated all week and squared off with Southland's Scott Hellier in a sudden death playoff to decide who went through to the final.

Lee hit his approach shot to the first playoff hole to 6m from the pin, and Hellier put his approach 1.5m inside Lee's. Both players had testing putts for birdie.

Lee, who earlier this year lost the New Zealand Amateur Final to Southland's Vaughan McCall, sunk the long birdie putt and threw his arms in the air to prompt a loud roar from his teammates and the sizeable gallery.

Hellier then missed his putt, and Bay were in the final.

Lee's efforts were rewarded when he was the named Player of the Tournament.

"It is a huge honour to claim that award with the great players that are here," said Lee.

"It was never my goal at the start of the week, but to win, that is special.

"I just wanted to win as many times as I could for the Bay team and in the end I had a great week.

"I drove the ball really straight and that set up a lot of opportunities for me and also put pressure on my opponents."

Bay coach Jay Carter was proud of his team's performance all week but had special praise for the heroics under pressure shown by Janin and Lee.

"The impressive thing was, in the morning Pete was one-down with a hole to play and absolutely knew he had to win the hole to get us into a playoff, which he did."

"Both he and Vic both loved it in the playoffs and they were glad it was them out there.

"They weren't scared of it, while the other two they played had lost the last hole before the playoffs and were playing more in fear.

"Our guys went out with nothing to lose and plenty of courage to both make birdies and come through."

Carter has been impressed by Lee's matchplay performances all year, so was not surprised by his consistency.

"We were calling him the robot all week.

"The guys knew Pete was going to win every match, so it was almost before you teed off you knew you had a point in the bag.

"You just couldn't see anyone beating him. He did not lose a match all year for the Bay and he only lost in the final of the New Zealand Amateur - so effectively he lost just once all year in interprovincial golf.

"That's a pretty impressive record."

The superior fitness levels of the Bay team must have played a part in the title win, and Carter says the morning team runs were not taken seriously by some of the other teams.

"We continued our processes we have done all year. We were up early every morning going for a team run before we teed off, which throughout the year other teams have had a couple of digs to us about it.

"We are very fit, and I think it is a mental attitude to know by getting up early to go for a run. You know you are working harder than other teams and you feel you deserve to get the rewards.

Toro Men's Interprovincial Final Scores

Bay of Plenty 2-1/2 Manawatu/Wanganui 2-1/2

Bradley Kendall bt Josh Munn 2/1, Peter Lee bt Lachie McDonald 4 /3, Sam Davis lost to Trent Munn 2/1, Victor Janin halved with Junior Tatana*, Landyn Edwards lost to Hayden Ring 2-down

*Janin won on the second extra playoff hole.

Semifinal Scores

Bay of Plenty 2 Southland 2

Brad Kendall lost to Tyler McLean 1-down, Peter Lee* halved with Scott Hellier, Sam Davis bt Liam Balneaves 3/2, Victor Janin bt Jeremy Hall 3/2, Landyn Edwards lost to Matt Tautari 2/1

*Lee beat Hellier on the first playoff hole for Bay of Plenty to win

- Bay of Plenty Times

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