Top guns exit at autumn fours

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 04/04/2012

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Just because women are on low handicaps is little guide to their fortunes in the 76th New Zealand autumn foursomes women's tournament being held at the Manawatu Golf Club this week.

That's because it is played in the alternate shots format, on handicap and with a random draw.

Former Manawatu-Wanganui representative Janie Field, on a one handicap, and Napier Golf Club clubmate Sue Wood on a five, were the lowest on handicap.

They won their morning match but were well beaten 5 and 4 by Jill Martin (Titirangi) and Esther Cowper (Remuera) in the afternoon.

The 59 pairs range in combined handicaps from six to 55 and it is tradition rather than the strength of the field which makes this event popular. Players come from as far south as Geraldine and north to Whangarei.

Also favoured were Taumarunui's Liz Hodgson (7) and Sandra Carey (6) who won the tournament in 2006. But they lost yesterday morning.

Marton's Jenny Ritchie (6), the former Manawatu-Wanganui selector, with Rangitikei's representative player Jill Hall (7) lost on the 19th to a Lansdowne (Masterton) pair but were giving away a lot of shots on handicap.

Manawatu's Edna Short and Viv Gillespie advanced to the third round with two wins as did Margaret Brislane (Pongaroa) and Paula McCool (Pahiatua) and mother and daughter, Mary Haggas (Waitomo) and Helen Haggas (Manawatu).

Manawatu hosted the first autumn foursomes in 1930 and again in 1938, 1946, 1951 and 1993.

Usually the autumn foursomes are over-subscribed and pairs are balloted out on handicap. But this time five of the maximum entry of 64 pairs withdrew, leaving five byes. The three-day tournament finishes tomorrow.

Last year's tournament was at Geraldine, South Canterbury and the winners from Te Anau-Queenstown have not trekked north.

The tournament was held at Feilding in 1998 when hot favourites, 1992 national strokeplay champion Annette Stott (Muriwai) and Jill Martin (then Pukekohe), won the trophy. It was also held on the Palmerston North course in 2003.

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