Every year, the New Zealand Mid-Amateur Golf Championship attracts the best players aged 30 and above from all over the country. For the last three years the event has been dominated by one man.
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When it comes to Dale Clarke, Northland's loss is Bay of Plenty's gain.
Just a week after a permanent move to Mount Maunganui, Clarke took out the New Zealand Mid-Amateur Golf Championship, held at Ōmanu Golf Club, for the third year running.
Clarke proved he would again be the man to beat as he set the tone with a five-under opening round of 67 on Friday, giving him a handy three-shot lead going into the second round.
In tough, windy conditions he scored 70 on Saturday which was enough to maintain his three-point lead.
In the final round on Sunday, Clarke scored an impressive 66 for a total of 203 for the championship - 13-under par and an improvement of two shots on his winning 2019 total of 205.
"It's pretty cool really, winning for the third time in a row," Clarke says.
"It probably felt even better than the first two. Nothing went too astray for me to be honest, I was pretty relaxed about it all to be honest."
He was made to work for the win by a strong field. With final scores of 213, Douglas Millington, of Ngaruawahia, and Brent Curnow, of Mount Maunganui, shared second place. Remuera's Matthew Cormack was third Hastings' Mike Wilson was two shots back on 215.
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"It was a good competition and a good bunch of people to play with over the weekend. I had that three shot lead after two rounds and played really well on Sunday which sealed it.
"Having the lead is always at the back your mind but nothing changes, I was quietly confident."
Meanwhile, another Bay of Plenty representative Diana Syer, of Wairakei, took the win in the women's championship. Competing in her first mid-amateur, Syer's win was by five shots over Vaha Fapiano, of North Shore.
Syer didn't have it all her own way with an opening round of 78, while Fapiano opened with 75 and Springfield's Heather Keefe with a 74. Syer took charge in her second round with a one-under par round of 71 to head into the final round with a one shot lead.
Fapiano could not match the pace on Sunday, posting a 78 to Syer's two-over 74.
The women's field was a strong one with many of those entered chasing selection for the upcoming Senior Women's Trans-Tasman Challenge. Brigit Holford, of the Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club, who posted one of the best rounds of the day on Saturday with an even par, shared third place with Keefe. Holford shot rounds of 79, 72 and 80, Keefe 74, 81 and 76.
While the tournament recognised the best male and female golfers aged 30-plus, with the awarding of the Neil Woodbury Cup and the Women's Golf Trust Shield respectfully for the lowest scores, prizes were also awarded for best nett and best stableford.
Best nett for the men was won by Omanu's Hayden White and the women's by Tracey McCarten, of Riverside. Best stableford for the men and women were both local Ōmanu members, Royden Trask and Karen Waerea. Consolation prizes were awarded to Bryan Toohill (North Shore), Andrew Rye (Cambridge), and Jill Hall (Rangitikei).
The 2020 tournament field included players from Australia, Canada, New Caledonia, Fiji, USA and China in addition to the strong New Zealand contingent, many of whom are past or current district representatives. The 2021 tournament will be hosted by Shandon Golf Club in Wellington with further details to be announced.
New Zealand Mid-Amateur Championship Results
1st Dale Clarke (Mount Maunganui) 203, 2nd-equal Douglas Millington (Ngaruawahia) and Brent Curnow (Mount Maunganui) 213, 3rd Matthew Cormack (Remuera) 215.
1st Diana Syer (Wairakei) 22, 2nd Vaha Fapiano, (North Shore) 228, Heather Keefe (Springfield) 231.