Golf: Edwards back to defend title

If last year's Danny Lee Springfield Open is anything to go by, it could be a happy hunting ground for defending champion Landyn Edwards.

It was a watershed moment for the player who only the week before bombed his chances of taking home the title at the Maori Golf Tournament by missing two chances to putt for the championship and lose the play-off, gifting the title to Wellington's Haupai Puha.

However, at the Danny Lee Open the young golfer, who is the greenkeeper at Lake View Golf and Country Club, was machine-like, winning the tournament six shots ahead of Omanu's Craig Hamilton.

It was a sign of things to come for Edwards, who was in the Bay of Plenty squad that secured the New Zealand Men's Interprovincial Championship in Dunedin late last year.

Also choosing to return to competitive golf at the Springfield Golf Club in Rotorua, where now professional Danny Lee shaped his game on the way to becoming the world's top-ranked amateur golfer, is Edwards' fellow Bay teammate Victor Janin.

Janin was the hero of the Bay's interprovincial triumph, birdying the second extra hole to win a play-off for his side over Manawatu Wanganui to secure the title.

With a plus 2.7 handicap, the Rotorua Golf Club member is the lowest marker in the oversubscribed field which will require balloting to reduce to the lowest 96 handicapped for Saturday morning's opening round.

In its seventh year and keeping within the wishes of Lee - who supports the tournament aimed at promoting New Zealand's young talent from his United States base in Austin, Texas - there are 73 entrants under 23 and 16 of the field have plus handicaps.

Lee failed to retain his playing card on the United States PGA Tour for 2013 but will play regularly on the secondary Nationwide and other tours as invites dictate.

Lee maintains his growing legacy to Rotorua, Bay of Plenty and New Zealand golf through his financial commitment to this tournament, which carries his name.

"Without Danny and his family's support, it would be extremely difficult to annually put on an event of this calibre which attracts such a quality field," said Springfield Golf Club club captain Mike Dragovich.

Former professional Andrew Searle, a past winner on the New Zealand PGA's circuit, has returned to the amateur ranks and his form during the 2013 Danny Lee Springfield Open will provide an interesting gauge for the aspiring youngsters.

One of those is Hastings' 14-year-old Max Gill, who plays off a +1.7 handicap.

The women's field is also strong with former New Zealand representatives Zoe Brake (+1.2 handicap) and Chantelle Cassidy (+.2) expected to feature in that division alongside visitors Joana Kim (.8), Ceyln Khoo (3.0) and Brydie Hodge (1.1).

The competition is played over 54 holes of strokeplay with two 18 hole rounds on Saturday and the final on Sunday morning.

Entry to view is free and spectators are welcome with play teeing off from 7.15am Saturday and 8am Sunday.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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