On course for a hot classic

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 29/01/2013
LawnMaster Classic
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
NEW GROOM SWEEPS CLEAN: Hokowhitu assistant greenkeeper Ian Wilce aboard the Manawatu Golf Club’s new Sand Pro bunker rake on the 18th as the course is prepared for the LawnMaster Classic.

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With stinking hot weather forecast for the week, Manawatu Golf Club course superintendent Malcolm Wells isn't panicking.

The four-day LawnMaster Classic starts on Thursday and he has been applying the usual amount of water on the course in mornings and nights for this time of summer.

And he won't be pushing the championship tees to extremes, even if the LawnMaster is a Charles Tour event for the first time and includes 50 professionals.

There are few areas where the blue tees can be lengthened, anyway.

"There's no use getting silly about it," said Wells. "The golf course is what it is. I would rather people shoot 20 under [par] than 5 over."

He said the public preferred to see birdies and eagles from the elite players.

Wells will see the course first-hand from a player's perspective because, as usual, he is playing in the LawnMaster. He will help his staff prepare the course early each morning before the 7.30am tee-offs.

"The course is good. The focus has been on the greens being smooth and reasonably quick. It is no use having them fast and bouncy."

A gang of volunteer club members scoured the course yesterday, picking up debris following Saturday's blow.

The special yellow pins will go out for the event.

The pro-am takes place tomorrow, largely peopled by corporate sponsors to raise a good proportion of the prize money of $40,000.

The 16 morning teams pay $350 each and the 34 teams in the afternoon pay $450, each team playing with one professional.

Manawatu's New Zealand amateur player Josh Munn, fresh off his big win in the Greater Lake Macquarie Golf Championship in New South Wales, will play in the pro-am. But that will be it for him because he then has to fly out with fellow New Zealand representative Tyler Hodge (Levin) to the Ten Nations international event in South Africa.

For the first two days there will be a two-tee start in the mornings and afternoons before the cut of the top 60 and ties are made on Friday afternoon.

Come Sunday and the winner will win $7200.

Many of New Zealand's best will be playing in the British Open qualifying in Melbourne this week and while Michael Hendry, Mark Brown and Ryan Fox won't be back from there for the LawnMaster, Josh Geary and former Manawatu-Whanganui player Hamish Robertson will fly back and have been given afternoon starts on Thursday.

Today, most of the pro field for Manawatu were playing in the Jimmy Napier Classic Pro-Am at Martinborough in Wairarapa.

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Former NZ Open winner Mahal Pearce withdrew yesterday because of a back strain. He could barely get out of bed after a week of physiotherapy.

Martin Webber has also pulled out because his wife has been in hospital.

- Manawatu Standard

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