Hawke's Bay newbie Jeff Tuoro had made it abundantly clear the country's top amateur golf teams' annual tournament was rugged and there were no easy games.
That came to pass today after the Bay senior men's representative team halved 2.5-2.5 with Taranaki in the morning but slumped 4-1 to defending champions Northland at the Hastings Golf Club in the afternoon.
"It was a little bit tough, especially in the afternoon, because Northland are a really strong side," said Bay top seed Mako Thompson, who was all square with Sam Jones, of Taranaki, in the morning but a 2down casualty to Northland counterpart Kadin Neho in the afternoon.
Thompson said after a team huddle the Bay lads had drawn the conclusion the Northlanders were "just that much better than us".
"It's a little disappointing but if we can kick on from here and win all the rest [of the games] we should be okay," said the plus-two handicapper, who has shown his matchplay mettle at in making the New Zealand Amateur semifinals in the past two years.
Thompson, who has a dual membership at the Bridge Pa and Maraenui club in Napier, saluted course superintendent Gordon Trembath and his army of greenkeepers, including Bay No 4 seed Tuoro, for providing pristine conditions on a sublime spring day.
"There'll be no complaints from any of the teams about the golf course this week."
Thompson was two up but Jones had clawed his way back to be all square in the morning.
"I just got a little bit out of position going into the last hole [No 18] so that really made it tough for me," the 21-year-old said, after driving right and having to punch out from the trees but coming up a tad shy of the green in his approach.
"That was a bit unfortunate because we knew if I had had it we would have won in the morning so we're a little gutted there."
No 2 Adam Winter went down 2 and 1 to Joseph Doyle but Ongaonga Golf Club amateur Ben Swinburne, at No 3, had Robin Smith's measure at 4 and 3 before a don't argue from Tuoro against Damion Powell in the morning.
Bay No 5 Russell Mitchell was the only one to find himself on the wrong side of the ledger, succumbing 2 and 1 to Zach Lewis.
Fresh from his individual and team exploits at the Asia-Pacific seniors in Malaysia, Stuart Duff from the home club was the only Bay victor against Northland.
If Duff was feeling the effects of 15 hours of travel since returning home around midday yesterday, he certainly wasn't showing it this afternoon.
"I enjoyed the rest in the morning," he quipped just before teeing up at No 1 for the back nine, on his way to eclipsing Alex Neely 2 and 1.
Thompson said facing Manawatu/Whanganui this morning and Canterbury in the afternoon would be ideal because they were resilient as opponents and would call on a sense of pack mentality from the Bay.
"To play them both on the same day is really good in the sense that if the boys fire then we can take some momentum into the Canterbury team so if we get a couple of wins there it'll put us in good spirits for Thursday and Friday."
Thompson relished his ability to read the pace of the greens today that could pose problems for some.
"We've come in with pretty good form this week so we're still in nice spirits to know we can get out there [today] to be in good shape for the following two days," he said, saluting Bay stalwart Allen Forrest's cooking in a house the players billet not far away from the course. "He's doing a roast right now and slaving over the stove."
The Bay last etched their name on the tourney title in 1969 and their only other conquest was in 1963 — both came at the Hutt course.
Otago and Tasman were the only teams to keep intact unblemished records after the dust had settled on today's proceedings.
The Southerners, sporting the badge of the most successful province in the tournament's history, pipped Wellington 3-2 in the morning before reloading to edge out neighbours Southland by a similar margin in the afternoon.
They have a bye tomorrow morning before facing Aorangi in the afternoon.
Tasman upset Bay of Plenty 3-2 this morning and then kept their foot on Taranaki's throat with a 4-1 outcome in the afternoon.
Like Otago, they also have a bye tomorrow morning but face Northland in the afternoon.
Auckland, Canterbury, North Harbour and Northland also went through today undefeated but all had byes on day one.
Club general manager Michelle Campbell said it was a godsend day one although she realised it would have tested some players and demanded they adjust smartly.
"The course is in a great condition so we're looking for another great day tomorrow."
The club is staging its first interprovincials since 1989.
The forecast is for temperatures in the high 20s tomorrow so players will be boosting their water intake.
Campbell hailed the 15 volunteers on the course who will ensure everyone is happy in the five-day tourney ending on Saturday.
"We are really appreciative of their help because we couldn't do it without the club members' support," she said.
Rd 1, div one:
Hawke's Bay 2.5 Taranaki 2.5: Mako Thompson all square with Sam Jones, Adam Winter bt Joseph Doyle 2/1, Ben Swinburne bt Robin Smith 4/3, Jeff Tuoro bt Damion Powell 6/5, Russell Mitchell lost to Zach Lewis 2/1.
Southland 1.5 Waikato 3.5: Matt Tautari lost to Charlie Smail 4/3, Liam Hewitt all square with Tane Robson, Doug Carmichael lost to James Fellows-Ford 7/5, Josh Kalweit lost to Ben Slaven 3/2, Liam Balneaves lost to Jack Trower 4/3.
North Harbour 4.5 Manawatu/Whanganui 0.5: James Hydes all square with Tyler Wood, Kevin Koong bt Liam Finlayson 5/4, Kit Bittle bt Trent Munn 3/2, Sung Jin Yeo bt Tyler Hodge 4/3, Natham Mayes bt Regan McConaghty 3/2.
Rd 1, div two:
Bay of Plenty 2 lost to Tasman 3: Mitchell Kale bt Matthew Grimes 1up, Joshua Morris lost to Kameran Clarke 7/6, James Tauariki bt Nick Ludbrook 3/2, Matthew Morris lost to Brook Hale 3/2, William Newman lost to Blair Bavin 2 down.
Poverty Bay/East Coast 1 Aorangi 4: Peter Anderson lost to Tim Leonard 5/4, William Brown lost to Josh Smith 4/3, Peter Kerekere bt Cameron Grant 5/4, Hukanui Brown lost to Jeff Hewitt 2down, Andrew Higham lost to Daniel Perham 5/4.
Wellington 2 Otago 3: Kerry Mountcastle bt Inia Logan 6/5, Thomas Woods all square with Brandon Hodgson, Elton Nicholson bt Jonny Mackay 4/3, Sam Marsters lost to Ben Patston 5/3, Jayden Ford all square Sungwoo Han.
Byes: Auckland, Canterbury, Northland.
Rd 2, div one:
Canterbury 3 Bay of Plenty 2: Matt Mclean lost to Mitchell Kale 2/1, Reid Hilton bt Joshua Morris 6/5, Andrew Green bt James Tauariki 1up, Kazuma Kobori bt Matthew Morris 3/2, Mike Toeke lost to William Newman 2/1.
Northland 4 Hawke's Bay 1: Kadin Neho bt Mako Thompson 2up, Taylor Gill bt Adam Winter 4/3, Dale Clarke bt Ben Swinburne 4/3, Brad Bonnington bt Jeff Tuoro 3/2, Alex Neely lost to Stu Duff 2/1.
R 2, div two:
Waikato 2.5 Aorangi 2.5: Charlie Smail halved with Tim Leonard, Tane Robson lost to Josh Smith 4/3, James Fellows-Ford bt Cameron Grant 1up, Ben Slaven bt Jeff Hewitt 2/1, Jack Trower lost to Daniel Perham 1up.
Auckland 4 Poverty Bay EC 1: Jared Edwards bt Peter Anderson 5/4, Jan Hyun Lee bt William Brown 2/1, Johnny Tynan bt Peter Kerekere 4/3, Kunaal Singh lost to Hukanui Brown 6/5 Josh Leitch bt Andrew Higham 4/2.
Tasman 4 Taranaki 1: Matthew Grimes lost to Sam Jones 4/2, Kameran Clarke bt Joseph Doyle 2/1, Nick Ludbrook bt Robin Smith 1up, Brook Hale bt Zach Lewis 4/3, Blair Bavin bt Brook Gray 6/4.
Otago 3 Southland 2: Inia Logan bt Matt Tautari 3/2, Brandon Hodgson lost to Liam Hewitt 2/1, Jonny Mackay bt Leith Campion 3/2, Ben Patston bt Josh Kalweit 6/5, Sungwoo Han lost to Liam Balneaves 4/3.
Byes: Wellington, Manawatu/Whanganui, North Harbour.
Rd 3, tomorrow, 7.30am: No 1 Northland v Bay of Plenty, No 10 Aorangi v Wellington.
8.05am: No 1 Canterbury v North Harbour, No 10 Man/Whang v Hawke's Bay.
8.40am: No 1 Auckland v Southland, No 10 Waikato v Poverty Bay/EC.
Byes: Otago, Taranaki, Tasman.
Rd 4, tomorrow, 12pm: No 1 Otago v Aorangi. 12.15pm: No 10 Tasman v Northland.
12.35pm: No 1 Canterbury v Hawke's Bay. 12.50pm: No 10 Taranaki v Man/Whang.
1.10pm: No 1 Wellington v Poverty Bay/EC. 1.25pm: No 10 North Harbour v Bay of Plenty.
1.45pm: No 1 Auckland v Waikato.
Rd 5, Thursday, 7.30am: No 1 Northland v North Harbour. 7.45am: No 10 Auckland v Aorangi.
8.05am: No 1 Canterbury v Man/Whang. 8.20am: No 10 Taranaki v Bay of Plenty.
8.40am: No 1 Otago v Poverty Bay/EC. 8.55am: No 10 Tasman v Hawke's Bay.
9.15am: No 1 Wellington v Southland.
Note: Every team time off afternoon.
Rd 6, Friday, 7.30am: No 1 Southland v Poverty Bay/EC, No 10 Auckland v Otago.
8.05am: No 1 Taranaki v Canterbury, No 10 Waikato v Wellington.
8.40am: No 1 Tasman v North Harbour, No 10 Northland v Man/Whang.
Byes: Aorangi, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay.
Rd 7, Friday, 12pm: No 1 Hawke's Bay v Bay of Plenty. 12.15pm: No 10 Aorangi v Southland.
12.35pm: No 1 Waikato v Otago. 12.50pm: No 10 Auckland v Wellington.
1.10pm: No 1 Man/Whang v Tasman. 1.25pm: No 10 North Harbour v Taranaki.
1.45pm: No 1 Northland v Canterbury.
Bye: Poverty Bay/EC.