Manawatu/Wanganui have sent shock waves through the NZ Women's Interprovincials after qualifying top of their division by defeating three-time defending champions Auckland 3-2 at the end of the round robin this morning.
On a perfect day for scoring at Napier's Maraenui Golf Club, five teams across the two divisions were still vying for four semifinal sports.
Division 1's undefeated teams Auckland and Manawatu-Wanganui had already booked their places in tomorrow's playoffs, but had a showdown of their own to see who would qualify on top.
The back bone of the Auckland side in No 5 Grace Jung and No 4 Angela Ju were as steady as ever – recording two more wins by 2&1 and 4&3 respectively to add to their perfect record this week.
However, this is where things got interesting.
Manawatu-Wanganui No 2 Zhuo Yi Hu out-played Fiona Xu to win her match 6&5 to record their first point on the board – tipping the momentum in the underdog's favour.
The No 3 for Manawatu-Wanganui Brydie Hodge incredibly came back from being down with nine holes to play, winning her matchup over Auckland's Carmen Lim 2&1.
This made the score 2-2 with the No 1's yet to finish, and up stepped Whanganui's own Tara Raj.
She had been unbeaten all week but was faced with a tall mountain to climb in former New Zealand Amateur champion Vivian Lu.
The two traded the advantage, both getting their noses in front at different stages during the match.
However, it was Raj who got ahead at the finishline, claiming the deciding point 1up.
"It feels awesome to win. My little sister came and told me that it was up to my match so I was a little nervous, but we're really happy to get the victory," said Raj.
"We didn't have high expectations of ourselves going up against a really tough Auckland side, so this gives us a lot of confidence going into the semifinals tomorrow," the 16-year-old added
Manawatu-Wanganui are set to play Division 2's runnerup Bay of Plenty tomorrow in the first semifinal, after they defeated Waikato 4-1 to make it through.
Auckland will face Division 2's leading team North Harbour in the other semifinal.
Manawatu-Wanganui bt Auckland 3-2: Tara Raj def Vivian Lu 1up; Zhuo Yi Hu def Fiona Xu 6/5; Brydie Hodge def Carmen Lim 2/1; Lisa Herbert lost to Angela Ju 4/3; Lily Griffin lost to Grace Jung 2/1.