Golf: Bay team go down twice on day one

By Anendra Singh

Two rounds and two defeats, but then no one said it was ever going to be easy for a team of predominantly young amateur golfers in Dunedin.

The Stortford Lodge Auto Sales Hawke's Bay senior men's team lost 4-1 to both Waikato and Auckland when the annual Toro Interprovincial golf tournament teed off at the Otago Golf Club yesterday.

Only captain and Bay top seed Richard Squire and No 3 Russell Mitchell carded wins in the morning and afternoon, respectively.

Ongaonga Golf Club member Squire, a former professional who returned to the amateur ranks after plying his trade in Europe, beat Waikato's Compton Pikari 1 up while Maraenui Golf Club member Mitchell beat Auckland's Tae Koh 2 and 1.

"It was pretty tough and an extremely hilly course,"  scratchie Mitchell said last night as some players found comfort in a spa pool at their motel after "a long and hard day" on the country's oldest golf course, affectionately referred to as Balmacewen.

"It was up and down the whole way," said the 22-year-old who has graduated from the Eastern Institute of Technology with a bachelor of business, majoring in accounting.

Mitchell, who hopes to find a part-time accounting job so as to focus on his golf but also to have a distraction, said the day was sunny and warm but the wind picked up in the afternoon to make it a little difficult.

While they were playing Southland and familiar foes Manawatu/Wanganui today, he felt there were no easy opponents.

"We just want to get out there and do our best to win because all the teams are pretty even and solid."

The former Napier Boys' High School pupil found himself two down after four holes in the afternoon against Koh but clawed his way back to be all square at the end of the first nine holes.

"He made a couple of mistakes in the last nine and I nailed a couple of birdies so that was the difference, really, because there wasn't much in it," said Mitchell who is making his debut in the premier team matchplay tournament in the country.

He has been in the senior men's squad for 18 months.

With everyone telling them each year how difficult the interprovincials are, Mitchell said the event had lived up to the hype.

The other players in the Bay team are No 2 Ben Swinburne, No 4 Max Gill, No 5 Madison Noakes and travelling reserve Carlos Tawera, who played in the afternoon.

Otago and Waikato made perfect starts in the field of 75 elite golfers from around the country.

The Otago team, who were playing in front of sizeable and parochial crowds, began in confident fashion in the morning when they hammered Poverty Bay 5-0 and then backed that up with a gritty 3- 2 win over 2005 champions North Harbour.

A young Waikato team, who are looking to win the title for the first time in five years, were just as impressive as they managed wins over the Bay and Taranaki both by the margin of 4-1.

There is still a long way to go, with the leading six teams from the 2011 event having the bye yesterday.

They will look to make up significant ground today.

Defending champions Southland, with NZ No 1 Vaughan McCall away at the Australian Open, were ruthless in dispatching Aorangi 5-0 in the afternoon.

Auckland, the second most successful team in history, began their 2012 campaign with a 4-1 win over the Bay in the afternoon.

The most successful team, Wellington, also managed a win in their only match yesterday morning, winning by 3-2 over Manawatu/Wanganui.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Canterbury, were looking likely to be upset early on by Tasman but fought back to halve the game 2-2.

The young promising Northland team got off to a poor start in the morning but won 3-2 over Tasman in the afternoon.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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