Golf: High hopes for Bay's young team

Auckland and Wellington shape as the teams for Bay of Plenty to beat in the Toro Women's Interprovincial at the St Clair Golf Club in Dunedin this week.

The best 70 women golfers from around New Zealand have travelled to Otago for the tournament that dates back to 1949.

World No1 amateur Lydia Ko, who won the player of the tournament award last year when she went undefeated for North Harbour, will miss the event because she has been invited to play a professional tournament in Taiwan.

Auckland are the defending champions after they beat 2010 winners North Harbour 4-1 in the final at the Whakatane Golf Club last year.

It secured Auckland's 20th win in the event and extended their margin of victories on the all-time list to three from their nearest rival Bay of Plenty, who were the last province to win back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.

Bay of Plenty will be hoping to emulate their champion men's team from last week and return from Dunedin with the trophy.

If they manage to challenge for the title, it will be with one of the youngest teams to represent the Bay with one player just 13 and two others aged 14.

But Opotiki's Tyler Kingi (13), Alanna Campbell from Omanu (14), and reserve Erikah Waiariki (14) from Taupo, have plenty of top golf behind them, and will benefit from the experience of the older team members.

Whakatane's Zoe Brake (21) will lead from the front at No1 in the matchplay line-up, with Grace Senior (20) from Tauranga, and the oldest member of the team, Susan Lines (26) from Te Teko, making up a formidable team.

Bay of Plenty Golf chief executive Chris McAlpine has high hopes they will do well in the competition the Bay last won in 2007.

"Well it's a really young team so it is exciting from that side of it and I'm pleased they have taken the gamble to bring the young ones through for the future," he said.

"I am confident they will get through to the semifinals from their side of the draw.

"The strong teams are defending champions Auckland and North Harbour, who won it in 2010, with their huge Asian influence, but if we get to the semis then anything can happen.

"So as young as they are, we still think they have every show of getting through that far."

McAlpine sees Brake as a key factor in how well the team goes.

"At one stage Zoe was the leading amateur in the country and she has now finished her Navy training. She has proved in the past she doesn't need much time to get back to form.

"Grace has been pretty consistent, Tyler has just been selected in the New Zealand junior team and is an outstanding talent at that age.

"Susan has an unbelievable record of success in matchplay, while Alanna has huge potential and is just going to get better and better in the years to come."

New Zealand Golf tournament manager Phil Aickin believes Auckland will be the team to beat.

"They defend with a team featuring the Keh sisters, backed up by Joanna Kim, Brittney Dryland and former New Zealand Amateur Champion Larissa Eruera, who will play at No5," said Aickin. "That shapes as a strong line-up."

But Aickin believed Wellington, with a young and unified outfit, will fancy their chances of making history at the event.

"It has been 20 years since Wellington last won the Interprovincial, but they have a team well capable of breaking that drought this year.

"Julianne Alvarez is one of the best players in the field. Te Rongopai Clay only a few months ago won the national age group championship at Mangawhai, and former No1 Lucy Davis adds real strength to the team, this year playing at No4.

"I am picking an Auckland and Wellington final."

Bay of Plenty team: Zoe Brake (Whakatane), Grace Senior (Tauranga), Susan Lines (Te Teko), Tyler Kingi (Opotiki), Alanna Campbell (Omanu), Erika Waiariki (Taupo) reserve.

Bay of Plenty draw: December 11 v Southland, December 12 v Tasman, v Manawatu/Wanganui, December 13, v Wellington, v Northland, December 14, v North Harbour.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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