Could Haena Seol have been given a tougher debut opponent than Larissa Eruera at the national women's inter-provincial golf tournament in Dunedin?
Probably not. The Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay reserve who made her debut at No5 during yesterday's 4-1 loss to Auckland wasn't afraid to admit she was "a bit nervous while excited at the same time" as her match with the 2006 New Zealand amateur champion, who spent three years on a golf scholarship in Texas, began on the 18th at the St Clair club.
However Korean, Seol, 19, who has called Hawke's Bay home for the past 10 years, was square with Eruera at the turn and after the second and third holes before losing the fourth, fifth and sixth in her 3 and 2 loss.
"Larissa's superior putting towards the end proved the difference," Seol, who struggled with her drives on the final three holes, explained afterwards.
"It was a good experience and hopefully I will get some more time down here," she said before returning to a team meeting.
A Woodford House product, Seol recently graduated with a diploma in sport and recreation from Auckland University of Technology. The Hastings club member is aiming for a playing stint in the US next year.
No3 Angela Jones was Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay's winner against Auckland and in the 4-1 loss to Waikato during yesterday morning's round. Jones shot a 75 on the way to a 6 and 4 win against Waikato's Charlotte Wilson and a 77 when beating Auckland's Joanna Kim 2 and 1.
Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay's No2 Jaimie McIvor remained winless in five rounds of play. Yesterday she lost 4 and 3 to Waikato's Sarah Bradley and 1 up to Auckland's Munchin Keh.
Manager of the HBPB side, Kathy Olsen, said the "wintry" weather conditions during yesterday morning's round upset her troops. The No5 against Waikato, Lucy Owen, lost 7 and 6 to Michelle Archer who produced a par round.
Olsen pointed out if her side beat Taranaki this morning and other results go their way there is a chance they could finish seventh, two places below the fifth recorded in Whakatane last year. Olsen was confident of a win against Taranaki.
All teams have a rest this afternoon before the playoffs tomorrow.
Auckland are the only unbeaten team heading into the final round. The 20-time champions were less than convincing again yesterday but won the big moments against Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay as well as Otago, who they beat 3-2 in the morning round to be in a dominant position with one round to go.
While Auckland are all but safe in division one, Waikato and Canterbury will fight for the remaining semifinal place. Canterbury have the easier passage to the final four as they meet hosts Otago in the last round while Waikato, who last won the event back in 2008, must beat defending champions Auckland to advance.
In division two, Wellington and North Harbour are top of the group with four wins from five matches but Bay of Plenty and Manawatu/Wanganui still have a semifinal chance.
Canterbury No3 Jess Guezenrodt, who has won five games out of five and is a candidate for player of the tournament, knows her team have everything to play for today.
"Our main goal was just to make it to the semis," said Guezenrodt. "We really wanted to make a big improvement on our efforts at this event from the last couple of years. We have got a great team spirit and every day we go out and we really try. The team has bonded really well and it's much better than it has been in previous years."