Waikato excel while Tasman struggle
Waikato headed into today's final rounds of the Freyberg masters golf tournament at the Maraenui Golf Club in Napier with a chance of making history.
The red, amber and blacks, who have never won the title since it began in 1986 at Paraparaumu, are the only team with a perfect winning record after overcoming defending champions Canterbury 3-2 yesterday morning and then accounting for Northland 3-2 in the afternoon.
Tasman's struggles continued with two more losses, going down to Manawatu-Wanganui 4-1 in the morning before dropping to a 3-2 loss to Otago in the later round.
Their only win against Manawatu-Wanganui was provided by Marlborough's Blair Bavin, who beat Roddy McCabe 3 and 2, before sitting out the afternoon round. Matt Bulfin scored a 3 and 2 win, while there were halves for Lyell Marfell and Peter Bourke.
Tasman remain in second-to-last, ahead only of Poverty Bay-East Coast.
Waikato's crucial win over Canterbury was a tight battle that was decided at the last hole when Andrew McKechnie maintained his winning run by beating Scott Ritchie 1 up at the last.
His team-mates Phil Hunter and John Gatley added the other points in the significant win that could see them crowned as Freyberg Masters Champions for the first time.
In the afternoon, Waikato lost their first two games but swept the other three.
Their closest rivals Wellington remain in touch, only one point back, as the seven-time champions beat Auckland 3-2 in the all-important clash.
The deciding match was the classic Rodney Barltrop (Wellington) versus Michael Barltrop (Auckland) battle.
With other matches complete the team members watched the family duel which was to decide the clash.
Both players nervously made six on the par 5 seventh. Rodney holed a putt from the fringe of the 8th green from 10m for birdie. Michael missed from 5m and the match was over.
The senior Barltrop won and Wellington took the crucial match.
Freyberg Masters round six and seven:
Manawatu/Wanganui 4 Tasman 1: Malcolm Wells bt John Murray 3/2, Stuart Smith bt Wayne Robbins 4/3, Tony Chettleburgh bt Lyell Marfell 7/6, Roddy McCabe lost to Blair Bavin 3/2, Rick Harding bt Peter Bourke 5/4.
Otago 3 Tasman 2: Andrew Hobbs bt John Murray 6/4, Gary Creedy lost to Matt Bulfin 3/2, Stephen Hitchcox bt Wayne Robbins 1 up, John McIntee halved with Lyell Marfell, Kyle Geary halved with Peter Bourke.
The Nelson Mail