Teenager storms to victory
Lita Guo has promised to return from Auckland to defend her women's LawnMaster title next year.
If she does, the women's tees might have to be pushed back. The effervescent Chinese-Kiwi 17-year-old with the shortish backswing conquered Hokowhitu over four days with a winning score of 282, or 14-under par.
Wellington's Julianne Alvarez made a late run yesterday, but it was no race, really, despite Alvarez equalling Guo's course record of 68 from Friday. Alvarez trailed by a whopping 11 shots when they teed off at 8.50am yesterday.
At one stage, Guo was 16-under, but dropped two shots coming home. It was her best four-round total by an astonishing 12 shots, but she is human, having a triple bogey on the par-three 11th on Saturday.
Her previous best performance was two-under at the North Island strokeplay, where she lost to Emily Perry, who was playing on her home course at Lochiel near Hamilton.
So how did Guo do it?
"My driver was pretty good, my putting pretty good; I was getting on the fairway and making putts and getting up and down," she said.
"They were great conditions. No divots on the fairways, which were all green and in good condition."
At the recent Youth Olympics in Sydney, Guo finished with a bronze medal in the mixed event at the Twin Creeks layout.
Next month she's off to the Riversdale Cup in Australia with a New Zealand team. Last year she played in the World Callaway event in the United States.
Guo's goal is to turn professional and play on the LPGA Tour in the US, but first she wants a few national titles.
It might have been their home course, but few locals got close, and all the Manawatu-Wanganui women missed the cut.
The best of the men was Foxton's interprovincial representative Junior Tatana, who was on even par in 29th, two shots ahead of Manawatu president Ewan Westergaard.
Big Manawatu hope Trent Munn finished four-over after promising much with his opening round of 69.
Course superintendent Malcolm Wells was on site at the crack of dawn each day, preparing the course before play, and he finished seven-over par.
Tyler Lock (Castlecliff) was a shot back, one shot ahead of Rhys Watkins (Manawatu), while Lachie McDonald was disappointed with his 11-over week.