A bye in the morning and all smiles when they teed off against Manawatu/Whanganui at the 10th shortly after midday but Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay had a tough day at the open-air office today.
Okay, so the 15-minute thunderstorm at the Maraenui Golf Club did pose some problems, but you won't find HBPB top seed Tessa McDonald grasping at straws to defend their 4-1 loss at the hands of their neighbours on the other side of the dormant Manawatu Gorge.
The only HBPB player left standing when the dust settled in round two of the annual New Zealand women's interprovincial tournament after day one was No 3 Clare Choi who beat Manawatu/Whanganui counterpart Brydie Hodge 5 and 4.
"Clare had a very good win, which is a good start for her and will give her confidence," said McDonald, who went down 4 and 2 to top seed Tara Raj after going one up after four holes but found herself all square after nine.
Raj, who was coming off a don't-mess-with-me 2 and 1 win over in-form Wellington No 1 Darae Chung in the morning, went 2up after 13 holes to retain her dominance.
Home club member Choi, who moved to Napier from Auckland only last year before making her seniors debut in April this year, had Hodge's measure from the start. The 51-year-old hairdresser was 2up after four holes, four up after nine holes and extended that to five for an early finish.
A more tooth-and-nail battle came from rookie captain Martha Manaena, who was all square after eight holes before No 4 Lisa Herbert broke the deadlock by the 12-hole mark to secure a 1up finish.
"Yes, she [Manaena] hung in there which was good," said McDonald, revealing she and Manaena's groups were the ones caught up in the short, sharp burst of inclement weather in a province desperate for rain.
"We still had the last hole to play so we'd got a bit drenched."
Veteran Napier Golf Club amateur Janie Field, at No 2, found it uphill all the way against Zhuo Yi Hu, going 3down at the No 13 hole and 5down at No 18 (after nine holes) as her opponent posted a don't-argue 7 and 5.
Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay women ready to battle for national honours
No 5 Fiona Ellis, from Hastings Golf Club, had a similar path in succumbing 5 and 4 to Lily Griffin.
McDonald said her teammates left nothing in their tanks but it was not to be.
The 24-year-old scratchie, who is a physiotherapist's receptionist in Gisborne, said Manawatu/Whanganui were a respectable side and had thoroughly deserved their victory.
The visitors, who HBPB traditionally play against during the year, had thumped Wellington 5-0 in the morning. Manawatu/Whanganui have the licence to become the darlings of the tourney if they do the unthinkable on Saturday, considering they last etched their name on the silverware in 1960.
McDonald said it wasn't going to be any easier tomorrow in division one as they face unbeaten and overwhelming tourney favourites Auckland in an 8.05am tee off from No 1 before measuring their worth from 12.35pm against the capital city who bounced back with a 4-1 win over Aorangi in the afternoon.
"We need to stay positive because we have two hard matches now so we'll just keep playing as we are to see what comes of it."
The teenage twitchers from Auckland terrorised Otago by yawning margins in the morning before giving Taranaki a similar taste of what it'll take to halt the juggernaut from the Big Smoke who are eyeing four victories on the trot and their 26th in the history of the amateur women teams' matchplay tourney.
It's hard to single out anyone from the Auckland five — Vivian Lu, Fiona Xu, captain Carmen Lim, Angela Ju and Grace Jung in pecking order — and, no doubt, it's cruel to be a reserve in a potent line up brimming with talent. Their average age is 15 years.
As other teams relaxed while waiting to tee off in the second round, the Aucklanders invested time at the makeshift driving range established obliquely off the No 10 tee.
Lu was more preoccupied with her putting, sinking variable putts at will.
Noticeably, the youngsters had their feet rooted to the ground without an air of pretentiousness despite their widely acknowledged sense of supremacy.
Mercifully the Aucklanders have a bye tomorrow afternoon. Should they prevail on Saturday they will make it a clean sweep for the city slickers, whose men broke a 25-year drought in the male teams' domain at the Hastings Golf Club last Saturday.
North Harbour joined the exclusive 5-0 club when they had thumped Northland in the morning but found it harder going against Waikato in the afternoon, settling for a 3.5-1.5 victory.
The Maraenui links course is in impeccable condition and the greens are looking slick. The weather burp shouldn't have any impact as the sun had come out with vengeance an hour later although the nor'westerlies were persisting.
From day one:
• Taranaki 1.5 Aorangi 3.5: Tineka Kumeroa bt Ginny Bolderston 4 and 3, Joanne McDonald lost to Angela Gerken 4 and 3, Debbie McCallum lost to Catherine Knight 2 and 1, Kim Lucas lost to Lynda Brown 2down, Kaye-Maree Mihaljevich all square with Kathryn Baker.
• Bay of Plenty 3.5 Canterbury 1.5: Caitlin Maurice bt Maddie May 2 and 1, Jessica Green lost to Amy Weng 1down, Aroha Tito all square with Hillary O'Connor, Taylor-Rose Perrett bt Olive Tapu 2 and 1, Susan Short bt Melissa Newburn 1up.
• Auckland 5 Otago 0: Vivian Lu bt Sumin Kang 5 and 4, Fiona Xu bt Danielle Bailey 5 and 4, Carmen Lim bt Tracey Storer 7 and 6, Angela Ju bt Susan Greig 7 and 6, Grace Jung bt Amy Johns 8 and 7.
• Northland 0 North Harbour 5: Shardae Bulkeley lost to Anna An 2 and 1, Kylie Jacoby lost to Vaha Fapiano 3 and 2, Sjanna Bishop lost to Eunseo Choi 6 and 4, Jenny Peters lost to Yeonsoo Son 6 and 4, Alayna Cox lost to Danika Lee 1 down.
• Wellington 0 Manawatu/Whanganui 5: Lizzie Neale lost to Tara Raj 2 and 1, Eve Clarke lost to 4/3 Zhuo Yi Hu, Emily Stenhouse lost to 5/4 Brydie Hodge, Amber Boyce lost to 5/4 Lisa Herbert, Tracy Bary lost to 8/6 Lily Griffin.
Byes: Hawkes Bay/Poverty Bay, Tasman, Waikato.
• Waikato 1.5 North Harbour 3.5:
Zahraa Bester lost to Anna An 3 and 2, Jill Morgan all square with Vaha Fapiano, Sarah Hancock bt Eunseo Choi 1up, Robyn Pellow lost to Yeonsoo Son 5 and 4, Sian Stevenson lost to Danika Lee 5 and 4.
• Tasman 0.5 Canterbury 4.5: Lizzie Neale all square with Maddie May, Eve Clarke lost to Amy Weng 2nd 1, Emily Stenhouse lost to Hillary O'Connor 4 and 2, Amber Boyce lost to Olive Tapu 6 and 4, Tracy Bary lost to Melissa Newburn 4 and 3.
• Aorangi 1 Wellington 4: Ginny Bolderston lost to Darae Chung 4 and 3, Angela Gerken lost to Erika Cui 3 and 1, Catherine Knight lost to Alanah Gullery 1down, Lynda Brown bt Victoria Li 4 and 3, Kathryn Baker lost to Shontalia William 6 and 4.
• HBPB 1 Manawatu/Whanganui 4: Tessa McDonald lost to Tara Raj 4 and 2, Janie Field lost to Zhuo Yi Hu 7 and 5, Clare Choi bt Brydie Hodge 5 and 4, Martha Manaena lost to Lisa Herbert 1down, Fiona Ellis lost to Lily Griffin 5 and 4.
• Taranaki 0 Auckland 5: Tineka Kumeroa lost to Vivian Lu 7 and 6, Joanne McDonald lost to Fiona Xu 6 and 5, Debbie McCallum lost to Carmen Lim 4 and 2, Kaye-Maree Mihaljevich lost to Angela Ju 9 and 8, Hollie Wham lost to Grace Jung 8 and 7.
Byes: BOP, Northland, Otago.
Standings (match pts/individual wins):
• Div one: 1 Auckland 2/10; 2 Manawatu/Whanganui 2/9; 3 Aorangi 1/4.5; 4 Wellington 1/4; 5 Taranaki 0/1.5, 6 HBPB 0/1; 7 Otago 0/0.
• Div two: 1 North Harbour 2/8.5; 2 Canterbury 1/6; 3 BOP 1/3.5; 4 Waikato 0/1.5; 5 Tasman 0/5, 6 Northland 0/0.
• Rd 3, tomorrow:
7.30am: No 1 Aorangi v Manawatu/Whanganui, No 10 Canterbury v Waikato.
8.05am: No 1 Auckland v HBPB, No 10 BOP v Tasman.
8.40am: No 1 Otago v Taranaki.
Byes: North Harbour, Northland, Wellington.
• Rd 4, tomorrow:
12pm: No 1 Aorangi v Otago, No 10 Northland v Waikato.
12.35pm: No 1 Wellington v HBPB, No 10 North Harbour v Tasman.
1.10pm: No 1 Manawatu/Whanganui v Taranaki.
Bye: Auckland, BOP, Canterbury.