A commanding day's play from Southland will see the team progress to the interprovincial semifinals today, after beating both Wellington and Auckland in convincing fashion at Balmacewen in Dunedin.
The team beat Wellington 3-2, then stormed home to a 4-1 win over Auckland in the afternoon, which included Southland No 1 player Tyler McLean's impressive 6/5 win over New Zealand's third-ranked amateur Sam An.
The impressive defeat also included Scott Hellier's 3/2 win over Nick Voke, which leaves him unbeaten in the tournament so far, as well as Liam Balneaves' 1-up win over Tae Koh and Matt Tautari's 2-up win over Josh Leitch.
Southland - the defending champions - will now play Bay of Plenty in their semifinal this morning in a rematch of last year's final and Southland manager Cody Harper believes Bay of Plenty will be out for revenge.
"It was a huge effort from the boys to beat . . . Wellington and then Auckland so convincingly," he said.
"Tyler was pretty impressive in the afternoon, the first seven holes he was five or six under and to beat Sam An like that is awesome. Scotty has been our man all week though, playing No 2, he's just played the best golf of the tournament.
"It is a team effort though. Matt, teeing off first, got back in form and beat [former Southland player] Peter Brinsdon, which was a bit of a derby, and Liam put in a captain's knock, which was great."
Jeremy Hall suffered two losses today, albeit narrow ones, but it was all positive news coming from the Southland camp.
"Bay of Plenty will be out for revenge, but the boys are up for it," Harper said.
"They had a couple of tight games and that will probably do them good. But the tournament starts again now and it's great to be playing and have the chance to defend that title."
Harper said the conditions at New Zealand's oldest course had been windy and miserable most of the week, but the Southlanders were not fazed and their on-course experience would prove valuable during today's play.
Southland qualified top in division one, after five wins from six matches, ahead of Manawatu-Wanganui, who will play Tasman in the other semifinal. The final will be played this afternoon.
Check southlandtimes.co.nz for updates on the Southland team's progress today.
Round 6: Northland 3 – Poverty Bay EC 2, Auckland 4½ – Taranaki ½, Man/Wang 3 – Waikato 2, Tasman 3 – BOP 2, Canterbury 4 – North Harbour 1, Southland 3 – Wellington 2. Round 7: Aorangi 4 – Hawkes Bay 1, Tasman 3 - North Harbour 1 , Waikato 3 – Wellington 2, Northland 3 – Otago 2, BOP 2 - Canterbury 2 , Man/Wang 4 – Taranaki 1, Southland 4 – Auckland 1 --------------------
- The Southland Times