The Southland men's golf team has started its national campaign in commanding fashion, beating Aorangi 5-0 on the opening day of the Toro Interprovincial at Balmacewen in Dunedin yesterday.
The title-holders were forced to sit out the morning's play, faced with the bye first up, but wasted little time getting to work in the afternoon, with all five players notching comfortable wins.
Tyler McLean won 2 and 1, Scott Hellier 6 and 5, Liam Balneaves 5 and 4, Jeremy Hall 5 and 4, and Matt Tautari 3 and 2.
Cody Harper, the team's on-course manager, said it was the ideal way to start the tournament.
"They all won their first holes and to get to five-zip is a very good start from the boys," he said.
"It was a bit different starting with the bye but everyone was relaxed going into their first tee shots and it was good. You need a strong five and we've got that, so it has been a good start."
Otago had a great opening day, winning both of their matches, beating Poverty Bay-East Coast 5-0, then North Harbour 3-2, while Waikato also had a strong start, with 4-1 wins over Hawke's Bay and Taranaki.
The tournament, which culminates with finals on Saturday, has attracted 75 of the country's top golfers.
Southland wrote themselves into the history books last year, winning the tournament for the first time, but they have a strong field to contend with to defend their title.
Southland play Hawke's Bay this morning and Waikato in the afternoon. Harper said the team would focus on each match as it came.
Round 1: Taranaki 3 Aorangi 2, North Harbour 4 Northland 1, Wellington 3 Man/Wang 2, Waikato 4 Hawke's Bay 1, Otago 5 Poverty Bay EC 0, Canterbury 2½ Tasman 2½. Round 2: Auckland 4 Hawke's Bay 1, Otago 3 North Harbour 2. Southland 5 Aorangi 0, Bay of Plenty 4 Poverty Bay EC 1, Waikato 4 Taranaki 1, Northland 3 Tasman 2.
- The Southland Times