Clare Choi reckons Hawke's Bay golfers are a lot more relaxed than those she played with and against in Auckland.

It didn't take the Maraenui club's women's champion long to adopt a similar swing to fellow Bay players if you'll excuse the pun.

"I'm putting no expectations on myself at all. I just want to play as well as I can," Choi replied when quizzed on where she hoped to finish in her club's 103-player Sacred Hill Women's Open which begins today and ends tomorrow.

A Korean who plays off a 5.2 handicap, Choi, is the fifth seed in the top matchplay group of the annual matchplay and stableford tournament. It will be her first taste of the open as she moved to the Bay only last year with hubby and fellow golfer Paul Shin and their two children after 16 years living in Auckland where she played at the Akarana club for 10 years.


A right hander who practises four times a week, Choi, pointed out she has experienced a poor patch of form in recent weeks and is far from satisfied with her play.

"When I'm playing well my short game and in particular my chipping is my biggest strength."

However her daughter Maggie mentioned Choi has a tendency to be hard on herself when it comes to golf so opponents this weekend should be advised not to read too much into her latest form assessment.

A hairdresser when she isn't playing golf, Choi, said she hasn't pondered Hawke's Bay team selection but fans of hers have pointed out she could be a contender in the future and if she can record a top four finish this weekend that will be another signal for the selectors to take note of.

Manawatu's Lilly Griffin, who plays off a 2.6 handicap, is the top seed. Last year she was beaten 5 and 4 in the semifinals by eventual winner Sara Deam in what was Deam's final tournament as an amateur before starting a professional coaching apprenticeship at the Maraenui club.

Deam went on to beat Kathy Olsen 2 up in the final of the open. A former Maraenui stalwart who plays off a 6.3 handicap at the Hastings club these days, Olsen, is the eighth seed this weekend.

Napier 4.4 handicapper Haena Seol, Hastings 4.7 handicapper Fiona Ellis and Napier 4.9 handicapper Samantha Carroll are seeded second, third and fourth respectively behind Griffin in the open matchplay group which oozes quality.

There will be plenty of interest in the form of Pahiatua 8 handicapper Lisa Cotton.


A sister of former All Whites, Hawke's Bay United and Napier City Rovers football defender Perry Cotton, who is based in Levin these days, Cotton, has missed only one open in the past 11 years and is regularly the first player to enter the tournament.

"I enjoy coming over because it's a trip away with the girls," Cotton said while en-route to Napier yesterday.

"I've been in a lot of finals at the open but I've only won the third division. I'm a bit like Phil Mickelson," she quipped.

A finance officer for Massey University, Cotton, has played at the Pahiatua club since 2004 after leaving the Palmerston North club. She has been a Manawatu-Whanganui rep for the past three years.

Like Choi, Cotton, is reluctant to put too much pressure on herself this weekend.

"Golf is very much an on-the-day thing. You need a lot of luck," Cotton added.

The final of the open matchplay group will tee off at 9.12am tomorrow and the prizegiving for all groups will be staged after the match.