Hopes up for Tasman players in Toro
Tasman are among a host of teams eyeing up this year's title after the country's leading 75 amateurs teed off today at the Toro men's interprovincial golf tournament in Dunedin.
Tasman might not be near the top of everyone's list although with New Zealand representative Blair Riordan back in the side for the first time this season, there's enough talent and experience in the side to suggest they could be tournament dark horses.
Riordan will take added confidence into the tournament after he was named yesterday in a New Zealand men's golf team to contest a series of Australian amateur events early in 2013.
Riordan joins Tyler Hodge (Levin), Josh Munn (Manawatu) and Vaughan McCall (Gore) in the four-man lineup to contest three events - the Australian Master of the Amateurs from January 8-11, the Australian Amateur Championships from January 15-20 and the Lake Macquarie Amateur from January 24-27.
Riordan, who was part of the team that won the Sloan Morpeth trophy in Australia last year, was the leading individual at this year's SBS Invitational and runner-up at the Carrus Open on The Charles Tour.
Meanwhile, the Toro title appears to be wide open this year. Defending champions Southland, who won last year for the first time in 60 years at the Poverty Bay Golf Club, are without New Zealand's No 1 amateur Vaughan McCall, who has been invited to play the Australian Open, and Cody Harper, who has since turned professional.
The traditional powerhouses of Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Auckland and Wellington all have young teams this year, adding to the tournament's unpredictability.
Amazingly, Riordan has never played Dunedin's Balmacewen course, but is expected to have new Tasman squad member and former Otago representative Tom Facer on his bag this week to help guide him round the course.
Tasman selector Alistair Palmer was confident that the other team members, Hamish Campbell, Ryan Chisnall, Glen Drummond, Nick Ludbrook and Tom Dasler were all showing signs of form, particularly after Campbell's recent record 62 off Greenacres' white tees in the Southpine Classic.
"They've all been practising hard and playing well," Palmer said.
"They've still got the best side of the draw in my opinion, so I'm pretty positive."
Apart from Riordan, all other five team members got a close look at the testing Balmacewen layout at the recent South Island interprovincial.
"It's a course you've got to think your way around and I think the guys discovered last time that they were probably too defensive on it," Palmer said.
"I think Hamish has decided that he'll probably attack it a wee bit more than he did last time. But it's a good golf course and you have to be able to think your way round so I believe Blair and Ryan will be particularly good round there and Ryan playing at No 3 should do pretty well anyhow.
"Whatever happens, Hamish will win some matches and lose some matches because of the different way he plays and then the other three I think will basically be pretty reliable. So I'm confident they'll do well."
Tasman opened their campaign this morning against Canterbury, followed by this afternoon's clash with Northland. They have a bye tomorrow morning ahead of their afternoon match against home team Otago. Tasman meet Poverty Bay East Coast in Thursday's only round and play Bay of Plenty and North Harbour in their final two matches on Friday.
- The Nelson Mail