It's a Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay versus Manawatu/Whanganui interprovincial flavour to the final of the annual Maraenui Women's Golf Club Open Championship in Napier tomorrow. HBPB top seed Tessa McDonald will tee off at 9.30am against Man/Whang No 5 Lily Griffin on hole No 1 of the Sacred Hill Vineyards-sponsored (for the 11th year) 54-hole match play tourney that drew a field of 96 in myriad sections.
However, it'll be too simplistic to suggest McDonald, of Gisborne, will be the favourite — on account of her scratchie status — to clinch the crown over the Palmerston North Girls' High School graduate who is on a handicap of three.
"I just need to stick to my own game and not worry about whatever she's doing — playing shot by shot, pick a target and hit it and then just go through it," says the 18-year-old of the 24-year-old physiotherapist's receptionist after Man/Whang were the losing finalists at the Maraenui club during the interprovincials last month.
Griffin was confident despite knowing there was another HBPB representative, Clare Choi, a 51-year-old hairdresser, who had made her debut at her home club during the interprovincials.
"I played at this tournament last year and the previous year so I'm quite familiar with the course," she said, mindful matchplay tends to be a leveller when juxtaposed with handicaps sometimes. "I always play my best when I really actually try to hit the ball hard rather than just trying to hit the fairways."
Griffin, who is in a gap year while on a quest to secure a golfing scholarship to pursue tertiary education in the United States, beat Maraenui club stalwart and former HBPB representative Kathy Olsen in the 19th hole in the second match this afternoon.
It was a nail-biting encounter after Olsen was four up with five to play before Griffin clawed her way back into the match to be all square after 18 holes.
Olsen carded a bogey on the par 5 No 1 playoff hole to concede to Griffin's par.
Griffin beat Trish McBride, of Maraenui GC, 4 and 2 in the morning while Olsen had the measure of Choi, 2 and 1.
"My putter was working magically and Clare didn't have the same luck with the putter."
McDonald beat Sian Stevenson, of Cambridge, before taking account of Julie Gee, of Riverside GC (Hamilton), in the afternoon.
A circumspect Griffin felt she wasn't doing it too easy but was driving it pretty good and hitting off the fairways long but found the prime real estate challenging to putt on.
"I was only a couple over the card so I just fought back when I was down, which helped towards the end when I had a couple of putts that went in at the right time."
The teenager has come from the national under-19 women's tourney in Hamilton where she had carded 79, 79, 77 to finish 12th in a field of 20.
Griffin feels she's more adept at match play, where one can wipe out a bad hole, because she adopts a healthy attitude.
"If I'm down I can stay in it mentally and I'm a fighter who will go to the end so I won't give up or anything," she said.
A chuckling Griffin said rain forecast for tomorrow — after it punctated play a little today — wouldn't affect her because her Manawatu GC was renowned for its fair share of precipitation for the best part of the year.
While a little disappointed to lose to Griffin, Olsen was pleased with her day after matching her rival's 77 off the stick.
"For me to take Lily that far, I was delighted," said the six handicapper.
Olsen didn't expect weather to be a factor tomorrow.
"We've had all the seasons in one day today," she said.
Olsen plays Gee in the elimination two match tomorrow while HBPB team manager McBride and Aseri Meikle face off in a home-club elimination three affair.
South Korea-born Choi, a seven handicapper who arrived here in 2018 after settling in Auckland in 2002, will take on Stevenson in the plate final.