When Dr Sandra Knuth moved from Chicago to Wellington, Florida, almost two decades ago she was always going to be on a collision course with everything croquet.

That's because Knuth had bought a condominium that happened to be situated across the street from the Palm Beach Polo/Croquet Club.

Consequently all that goes a fair way in explaining how the 54-year-old American has ended up competing in her maiden Women's Golf Croquet World Championship staged in Hawke's Bay for the past week.

"It's just such a wonderful sport and it's so nice that men and women can play equally in something that is good for the mind and body, outside with nature, with what truly is a sport for life," said the radiologist who bowed out from the top-16 knockout stage of the sixth edition of the championship, which advanced into its fifth day at the Heretaunga Croquet Club in Hastings and the Marewa Croquet Club in Napier today.


The contenders in the main knockout draw were carrying on into the night to decide the top eight.

Top seed Jenny Clarke, of Christchurch, had eased into the top 16 after beating Sonya Sedgwick, of Haumoana, 7-5, 7-6 before grind down Wendy Dickson, of Australia, 7-1, 7-6 to become the first top-eight qualifier.

Other favourites, Alison Sharpe, of Australia, beat Cheryl Bromley, of the United States, 7-5, 7-4, while Pauline Salib, the top-ranked international from Egypt, stamped her supremacy on the lawns on an overcast and wet day with comfortable win of 7-3, 7-4 over over Susan Truman, of Auckland.

Knuth had succumbed 7-5, 7-5 to Hanan Rashad, of Egypt, but was simply delighted to have progressed as far as she had in her first outing although she was looking forward to carrying on competing in the bowl stage tomorrow.

"I can still finish 17th out of 52 so there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be doing it," she said of the eight-day tourney which has lured competitors from eight nations.

For someone born in the 1960s, she recalled croquet was humming with families as a backyard sport in the United States.

"We had those sort of loose hoops and nine wickets so a lot of people in my age group grew up playing the nine-wicket backyard version."

Knuth said when the shoulders were shot in golf and the knees were buckling in tennis there was always croquet beckoning.


The competitive juices started flowing for her when she took part in a "wonderful programme" for mixed genders on the Nile River, Cairo, in 2012.

It helped that Bromley, an American professional, who was up against Sharpe this afternoon, became a source of inspiration to come here after having competed at a previous women's world championship.

The Stars and Stripes team of three are under the tutelage of Egypt-born American Sherif Abdelwhab, the current US open No 1 in golf croquet.

"He has really advanced golf croquet interest in the States single handedly," Knuth said.

"In the States it is pooh-poohed as single-minded game but people are beginning to realise there's a lot more to it although it takes about 15 minutes to learn."

It is her second trip to the Bay, "a beautiful country", after she first arrived here when the province staged the open golf croquet world championship in 2015.

Knuth happened to be attending a foot-and-ankle conference for radiologists on a ship so one of the stops at Mt Maunganui made it an opportune excuse for her to see more of the East Coast of New Zealand.

In the quest for the other top eight berths are Judith Wembridge (Australia) v Shadin Oukasha (Egypt); Soha Mostafa (Egypt) v Mona Hegazi (Egypt); Mervat El Shazli (Egypt) v Abeer Mostafa (Egypt); Hanan Rashad (Egypt) v Iman El Fanasawi (Egypt); Dallas Cooke (Mt Maunganui) v Maram Nabil (Egypt); Janine McHardy (Australia) v Manal Khoudeir (Egypt); Ashley Cooke (Mt Maunganui) v Sharpe.

Kiwi women's golf croquet champion, Ellie Ross, the 16-year-old Nelson College for Girls pupil, lost to El Shazli 6-7, 7-5, 7-3 in the the last 16 stage.

First timer Helen Reeves, of Hastings, also lost 7-4, 7-6 to Nabil to end the Bay presence in the champs.

Wendy Dickson, of Australia, lines up a shot at Heretaunga Croquet Club, Hastings, during the Women's World Golf Croquet Championship, in Hawke's Bay, today. Photo/Duncan Brown
Wendy Dickson, of Australia, lines up a shot at Heretaunga Croquet Club, Hastings, during the Women's World Golf Croquet Championship, in Hawke's Bay, today. Photo/Duncan Brown


Early games from days 4 and 5 of the 6th Women's World Golf Croquet Championship played at Heretaunga and Marewa clubs. The final rounds of block play and play-offs which leads into the knockout and plate events.

Key: Australia (A) England (Eng) Egypt (Eg) Ireland (Ire) Scotland (Sco) Spain (Sp) USA & NZ.

Final block play: S Oukasha (Eg) bt S Sedgwick (NZ) 7-3, 4-7, 7-3; B Wild ( A) bt A Brooks (A) 7-5, 2-7, 7-3; P Anderton (NZ) bt J McHardy (A) 7-6, 2-7, 7-4; P El Wi (Eg) bt B Elzaburu (Sp) 7-2, 4-7, 7-2; R Newsham (A) bt K Logan (A) 7-6, 6-7, 7-4; J Wembridge (A) bt S Roberts (NZ) 7-6, 3-7, 7-1; B Pfitzner (A) bt G Trivett (A) 7-2, 7-5; H Rashad (Eg) bt A Woodhouse (A) 7-3, 6-7, 7-4; K Magee (A) bt M El Shazli (Eg) 7-3, 6-7, 7-6; V Arney (A) bt M Lewis (NZ) 7-5, 5-7, 7-5; P Young (NZ) bt H Reeves (NZ) 7-2, 7-5, 7-4; P Gonzalez de Aguilar (Sp) bt A Millar (A) 7-6, 3-7, 7-6; M Hegazi (Eg) bt K Magee (A) 6-7. 7-2, 7-5; A Brooks (Eng) bt B Elzaburu (Sp) 5-7, 7-6, 7-6;

Block play-offs: M Abdelraz (Eg) bt D Cook (NZ) bt 7-4, 7-5; S Knuth (USA) bt N Melksham (A) 7-2; B Pfitzner (A) bt D Dixon (USA) 7-2; S Sedgwick (NZ) bt V Arney (A) 7-3; L Dewar (Sc) bt A Sharp (NZ) 7-4; M Hegazi (Eg) bt D Dixon (USA) 7-4; M El Shazli (Eg) bt A Sharp (NZ) 7-3; S Knuth (USA) bt K McLoughlin (A) 7-4.

Knockout: S Mostafa (Eg) bt L Dewar (Sco) 7-2, 7-2; J Clarke (NZ) bt S Sedgwick (NZ) 7-5, 7-6; W Dixon (A) bt P El Wi (Eg) 7-6, 7-6; S Okasha (Eg) bt B Wild (A) 7-5, 7-5; M Shazly (Eg) bt E Ross (NZ) 6-4, 7-5, 7-3: M Hegazi (Eg) bt K Magee (A) 6-7, 7-2, 7-5; I El Fanasawi (Eg) bt M Abdelrazek (Eg) 7-2, 7-6; H Rashad (Eg) bt S Knuth (USA) 7-5, 7-5; J Stevens (Eng) bt J Wembridge (A) 3-7, 7-4, 7-6; A Mostafa (Eg) bt B Pfitzner ( (A) 4-7, 7-6, 7-2; P Sahib (Eg) bt S Truman (NZ) 7-3, 7-4; M Nabil (Eg) bt H Reeves (NZ) 7-4, 7-6.

Plate: J Pringle (Eng) bt S Cole (NZ) 7-4; R Newsham (A) 7-5; R Saunders-Robertson (Sco) bt M Lewis (NZ) 7-5; N Melksham (A) 7-3; S Roberts (NZ bt G Trivett (A) 7-4; R Saunders Robertson (A) 7-3; A Sharp (NZ) bt A Woodhouse (A) 7-3; K Burt (Eng) 7-5; A Brooks (Eng) bt A Henry (NZ) 7-5; G Trivett (A) 7-3; V Arney (A) M Taylor (NZ) 7-4; P Anderton (NZ) bt K Burt (Eng) 7-6; N Kelly (Ire) 7-5; N Kelly (Ire) 7-5; M Taylor (NZ) 7-5; R Newsham (A) bt B Elzaburu (Sp) 7-4; G Trivett (A) 7-5; P Gonzalez de Aquilar (Sp) bt D Dixon ( (USA) 7-6; P Young (NZ) bt K McLoughlin (A) 7-4; V Arney (A)7-5; M Taylor(NZ) bt A Woodhouse (A) 7-6; A Henry (NZ) bt S Roberts (NZ) 7-5; B Elzaburu (Sp) bt S Cole (NZ) 7-4; P Gonzalez de Aquilar (Sp;) N Melksham (A) 7-2; K McLoughlin (A) bt P Gonzalex de Aquilar (sp) 7-5; A Woodhouse (A) bt N Kelly (Ire) 7-3; S Cole (NZ bt A. Henry (NZ) 7-3; J Pringle (Eng) bt M Lewis (NZ) 7-3.