First to finish and looking toasted in the radiant Hawke's Bay sun but the Otago amateur golfers were safely into the zone of teams that weren't burned after day two of competition today.
Mercifully the Southerners had a bye in the morning before beating Aorangi 3-2 in the afternoon at the Hastings Golf Club.
But top seed Inia Logan, No 2 Brandon Hodgson, No 3 Jonny Mackay, No 4 Ben Patston, No 5 Sungwoo Han and reserve Jack Turner weren't done for the day.
They were going through the motions on the driving range next to the Bridge Pa course late in the afternoon, well before the other teams continued to plough their way through the pristine fairways, dutifully replacing their divots along the way.
"We're very happy, eh, because we have a pretty young team this year so we didn't know how we were going to perform but we're off to a good start so the boys are pretty happy with that," said Logan, who was coming off two don't-argue victories yesterday but succumbed 3 and 2 to Aorangi No 1 Tim Leonard today.
Otago had slain Wellington in round one and then posted a similar 3-2 result in the Southern derby over Southland.
Captain Hodgson, 35, the oldest, pipped Josh Smith 1up, Mackay took Cameron Grant in his stride, 3 and 2, Patston had Jeff Hewitt's measure with a 7 and 6 while Han handed Daniel Perham, celebrating his 100th outing, a welcome 4 and 3 gift.
Logan said Turner, the son of professional golfer and two-time New Zealand Open winner Greg Turner, would probably have a chance of playing against Poverty Bay/East Coast in the morning tomorrow, when all teams will have a break in the afternoon.
The senior Turner has been spotted around the Hastings club in the past week. The 56-year-old, born in Dunedin but living in Queenstown, spent most of his career on the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour. He had carved up 14 professional victories.
Asked what was working for the outfit from the Deep South, Logan said: "I think as a team we perform very well and everyone cheers each other on so we work well as a unit."
Stuart Duff savours first overseas accolades in Malaysia
Cohesiveness and culture aside, the Otago lads are relishing the Bridge Pa terrain and the challenges it poses, according to the Cromwell Golf Club member, who works part-time as a scaffolder.
"The heat's definitely a big key for us so we need to stay hydrated and all that," he said with a grin. "The course is pretty similar to down South."
Logan said Otago often found their mark on a good reputation so they had a spring in their step on arriving here.
"We didn't know [we were going to be undefeated on day three] but we tend to give it our 100 [per cent]," he said. "I think we'll play it by ear and we're going all right but it's still a long way to Saturday."
With Hodgson bringing his A game every year, Logan said, the young guns were finding a niche around him to bolster their arsenal.
He said it was going to be a big day for them tomorrow when they face North Island powerhouses Auckland and Waikato in the division two campaign.
"They are the two favourites so once we get the job done [today], hopefully, keeping hydrated and we'll keep doing what we're doing."
His assertion was spot on after Auckland walloped Waikato 4-1 this afternoon in a clash of unbeaten sides.
However, the city slickers didn't have it all their way in the morning when Southland jolted them out of their complacency before registering a favourable 3-2 result.
In the division one draw, North Harbour sit on top having also not lost a game after halving with Canterbury in the morning. They went on to crush Bay of Plenty 5-0 in the afternoon.
Hawke's Bay's task became tougher after they succumbed 3 and 2 to Manawatu/Whanganui in the morning before showing some ticker in the afternoon by halving with the Cantabrians.
No 4 Jeff Tuoro beat Tyler Hodge 2 and 1, while No 5 Stuart Duff remained unbeaten with a similar outcome against Angus Findlay.
Bay top seed Mako Thompson beat Matt McLean 3 and 2, No 2 Adam Winter went 1down to Reid Hilton, No 3 Ben Swinburne also stumbled by the same margin to Andrew Green before Tuoro beat Kazuma Kobori went 3 and 2 and Duff halved with Mike Toeke.
"Unfortunately we couldn't get it done this morning because I think a few of us struggled just a little bit. We grilled hard this afternoon but, unfortunately, just got a half there so not too bad but good effort from the boys to battle back from this morning," said Thompson as the Bay sit on two halves and two losses.
While not having seen the leaderboard, the 21-year-old, who has dual membership at Hastings and Maraenui Golf Club, said it was imperative to clinch then next two games.
The Bay tee off against Tasman before reloading against Bay of Plenty at midday on Friday after a bye in the morning.
Thompson agreed they needed not just to tidy up their act but also have a couple of results go their way.
"But there's been some upsets this week with two of the bigger teams losing so who knows."
The plus-two handicapper said they had pushed Canterbury this afternoon with recently crowned Asia-Pacific Seniors champion Duff draining a 15m putt on the last hole.
"It was a big bomb in front of the clubhouse to get a half which is really, really crucial," he said of Duff who returned from Malaysia on Monday, rested and teed off in the second round. "He's been there at No 5 all week so it's good to have him going out there for us."
Their two losses, Thompson said, were on the last holes.
From day 2 today:
Bay of Plenty 3 Northland 2: Mitchell Kale bt Kadin Neho 4/3, Joshua Morris lost to Taylor Gill 9/8, James Tauariki lost to Dale Clarke 5/4, Matthew Morris bt Brad Bonnington 1up, William Newman bt Alex Neely 2/1.
Wellington 2 Aorangi 3: Kerry Mountcastle bt Tim Leonard 3/1, Thomas Woods lost to Josh Smith 3/2, Elton Nicholson lost to Cameron Grant 1 down, Sam Marsters lost to Jeff Hewitt 4/2, Jayden Ford bt Daniel Perham 5/4.
Canterbury 2.5 North Harbour 2.5: Matt McLean all square with James Hydes, Reid Hilton bt Kevin Koong Liam 4/2, Andrew Green lost to Kit Bittle 3/2, Kazuma Kobori lost to Sung Jin Yeo 2/1, Mike Toeke bt Natham Mayes 4/3.
Manawatu/Whanganui 3: Tyler Wood bt Mako Thompson 4/3, Finlayson bt Adam Winter 1up, Trent Munn bt Ben Swinburne 2/1, Tyler Hodge lost to Jeff Tuoro 2/1, Angus Findlay lost to Stu Duff 2/1.
Auckland 3 Southland 2: Jared Edwards all square with Matt Tautari, Jang Hyun Lee all square with Liam Hewitt, Johnny Tynan bt Doug Carmichael 1up, Kunaal Singh bt Josh Kalweit 9/7, Josh Leitch lost to Liam Balneaves 1up.
Waikato 4 Poverty Bay/East Coast 1: Charlie Smail all square with William Brown, Tane Robson all square with Peter Kerekere, James Fellows-Ford bt Hukanui Brown 5/4, Ben Slaven bt Andrew Higham 1up, Jono Blair bt Neil Hansen 3/2.
Byes: Otago, Tasman, Taranaki.
Rd 4 today:
Otago 3 Aorangi 2: Inia Logan lost to Tim Leonard 3/2, Brandon Hodgson bt Josh Smith 1up, Jonny Mackay bt Cameron Grant 3/2, Ben Patston bt Jeff Hewitt 7/6, Sungwoo Han lost to Daniel Perham 4/3.
Canterbury 2.5 Hawke's Bay 2.5: Matt McLean lost to Mako Thompson 3/2, Reid Hilton bt Adam Winter 1up, Andrew Green bt Ben Swinburne 1up, Kazuma Kobori lost to Jeff Tuoro 3/2, Mike Toeke halved with Stuart Duff.
Northland 4 v Tasman 1: Kadin Neho bt Matthew Grimes 4/2, Taylor Gill halved with Kameran Clarke, Dale Clarke bt Nick Ludbrook 2/1, Brad Bonnington bt Brook Hale 3/2, Alex Neely halved with Blair Bavin.
Manawatu/Whanganui 4 Taranaki 1: Tyler Wood lost to Sam Jones 3/2, Liam Finlayson bt Joseph Doyle 2/1, Trent Munn bt Robin Smith 3/1, Tyler Hodge bt Damion Powell 4/3, Regan McConaghty bt Zach Lewis 1up.
North Harbour 5 Bay of Plenty 0: James Hydes bt Mitchell Kale 4/3, Kevin Koong bt James Tauariki 3/2, Kit Bittle bt Matthew Morris 3/2, Sung Jin Yeo bt William Newman 1up, Nathan Mayes bt James Golding 2/1.
Wellington 4.5 Poverty Bay/East Coast 0.5: Kerry Mountcastle bt Peter Anderson 5/4, Thomas Woods halved with William Brown , Elton Nicholson bt Peter Kerekere 4/2, Sam Marsters bt Andrew Higham 4/3, Jayden Ford bt Neil Hansen 4/3.
Auckland 4 Waikato 1: Jared Edwards bt Charlie Smail 4/3, Jang Hyun Lee bt Tane Robson 2/1, Johnny Tynan lost James Fellows-Ford 1 down, Kunaal Singh bt Ben Slaven 2/1, Josh Leitch bt Jack Trower 1up.
Rd 5, tomorrow, 7.30am:
No 1 Northland v North Harbour.
No 10 Auckland v Aorangi.
No 1 Canterbury v Man/Whang.
No 10 Taranaki v Bay of Plenty.
No 1 Otago v Poverty Bay/EC. 8.55am: No 10 Tasman v Hawke's Bay.
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 Manawatu/Whanganui.
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.