Tasman falter after early promise
It was a tough day at the office for the Tasman women's golf side yesterday as they lost both their opening matches on day one of the Toro Interprovincial tournament at the St Clair club in Dunedin.
Tasman's first tie of the event against Northland in the morning was one they had targeted for victory. At the midway point of the contest, things were looking good.
Strong starts to No 2 Lesley Baxter, No 3 Emily Greenhough and No 4 Tracy Bary had Tasman up in three of the five matches.
However, Nelson club member Baxter was the only one of those three able to maintain her lead over the final nine holes and with No 1 Emily Stenhouse and No 5 Jean Gibson also going down, Tasman slumped to a 4-1 loss.
Despite being without international star Lydia Ko, last year's beaten finalists North Harbour loomed as a tough task for Tasman in the afternoon. Once again, Tasman got off to a solid start and after nine holes Marlborough club player Stenhouse and Baxter were both ahead, while Motueka's Greenhough was all square.
Stenhouse produced a top effort to hold on and beat Harbour's top player Kristen Farrell 3 and 2, but Baxter and Greenhough were unable to do the same.
And with Rarangi player Bary and Gibson, of Karamea, both slumping to 6 and 5 losses, Tasman went down 4-1 for the second time.
The disappointing results meant Tasman sat seventh and last in division two at the end of the day's play. They were due to face Bay of Plenty and Wellington today.
Going into today's second day title favourites Wellington led division two after wins over second-placed Manawatu-Wanganui and Northland. Canterbury topped division one, beating Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.
Many of the big teams survived scares yesterday. Wellington, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury were all made to sweat as they were put under pressure by lesser-fancied rivals in the opening rounds of the seven-round championship.
Auckland and North Harbour, the finalists at Whakatane last year, made solid starts winning their only matches over Aorangi and Tasman respectively after having the morning bye.
But it was the close shaves from the other contenders that was the talking point.
Wellington, who have won the title on five occasions, and came into the event as one of the favourites, were being outplayed by a determined Manawatu-Wanganui outfit in round one.
Manawatu-Wanganui No 5 Kelly Nicholas and No 3 Brydie Hodge got their team on the board with wins and Stephanie Hyatt was one up with four holes to play against her rival and ex-Tasman player Lucy Davis. But the Wellington No 4 rallied and turned her match around to win the contest one up.
"I knew that I was under pressure and that my match would have a big say in whether we won or not," said the 22-year-old from the Manor Park Golf Club.
"But I stuck to my processes and even when I was four down, I thought I would come back. My putting was really solid throughout the match and in those last four holes it was clutch. We knew that they wouldn't be easy to beat but it was good to get the win.
"We think we have as good a chance as anyone here to win this week and we are looking forward to the next few days."
Wellington's Julianne Alvarez and Te Rongopai Clay finished the job with convincing wins by margins of 5 and 4 and 4 and 2 respectively.
Wellington beat Northland comfortably 4-1 in round two.
Meanwhile, Waikato also managed a fine comeback. The 2011 finalists lost their first two matches against Taranaki but their leading three players, Hanna Seifert, Sarah Bradley and Charlotte Willson, all came home strongly to secure the 3-2 victory.
Bay of Plenty, who have won the title 17 times, were also tested by Southland before winning 3-2.
Canterbury opened in impressive fashion by dismissing Hawkes Bay 4-1. But they had to fight to overcome Taranaki 3-2 in round two.
Results and standings
Round one: Northland 4 Tasman 1 Sjanna Bonnigton bt Emily Stenhouse 4/2, Sam Dangen lost to Lesley Baxter 1 down, Kylie Jacoby bt Emily Greenhough 3/1, Jo Taylor bt Tracy Bary 3/2, Jodi McCalister bt Jean Gibson 4/3
Round two:North Harbour 4 Tasman 1 Kristen Farrell lost to Emily Stenhouse 3/2, Lita Guo bt Lesley Baxter 5/3, Sai Ma bt Emily Greenhough 3/1, Julitta Lam bt Tracy Bary 6/5, Jessica Murray bt Jean Gibson 6/5
Division one: Canterbury 2 points (7 wins), Otago 1 (6), Auckland 1 (4.5), Hawkes Bay 1 (4), Waikato 1 (3), Taranaki 0 (4), Aorangi 0 (1.5).
Division two: Wellington 2 (7), Manawatu/Whanganui 1 (6.5), Northland 1 (5), North Harbour 1 (4), Bay of Plenty 1 (3), Southland 0 (2.5), Tasman 0 (2).