Canty wary of northern rivals

The Canterbury women's golf team have form, but not history, on their side as their interprovincial tournament begins today in Dunedin.

They won the South Island Interprovincial tournament two months ago and despite having two South Island teams in their section, plus winnable matches against Hawke's Bay and Taranaki today, the side remain wary of talking themselves or their chances up.

That could be because the men's side just bombed their tournament and finished eighth last week, but it's more likely because of the threat teams like defending champions Auckland and perennial contenders Waikato pose in their section.

Canterbury play both those sides tomorrow.

The Canterbury team of, in playing order, Sylvie Williams, Elisha Crosbie, Jess Guenzerodt, Zhantel Weekes and Kate Turner can draw confidence from a sensational performance at the South Islands.

In that tournament, also at St Clair, Canterbury easily won all four matches and were impressive as individuals, too. Of their 32 matches, Canterbury players lost just five and that tournament was played without Weekes.

Their feet, however, remain firmly on the ground.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," said manager Rachel Thow. "We obviously want to make the semifinals and to win the tournament, but we're not thinking about that. We're just worried about Hawke's Bay, our first opponent."

Thow said to focus on the two "big teams" in the pool was foolish because all sides had the ability to cause an upset or to fire on any given day.

"Our girls are all peaking at the right time, though," Thow said. The inclusion of Rawhiti's Turner had made a big difference to the side, which finished ninth at last year's tournament in Whakatane.

"She hasn't done a whole lot specifically, but she's brought the team together."

Turner will captain the side but, at 35, is the only member of the side who was alive the last time Canterbury won the tournament.

That was in 1988 and no South Island side has lifted the trophy since Di Woodhouse, Liz Douglas, Adrienne Bond, Sue Ruddenklau, Lynne-Marie Shaskey and Kerryn Starr did at New Plymouth 24 years ago.

Turner will play at No 5, but the side's depth could be a major plus. Williams is now at No 1, which has moved last year's top two, Crosbie and Guenzerodt, down a spot, giving the side plenty of balance.

The tournament will be without a number of big names who have graced it in the past, with both Auckland's Cecilia Cho (pro) and North Harbour's Lydia Ko (playing in Asia) unavailable.

Waikato's Emily Perry has also left the amateur ranks and Canterbury's match with them looks set to be the crucial one for a semifinal spot.

Auckland are clear favourites, with sisters Wenyung and Munchin Keh at Nos 1 and 2, while former New Zealand amateur champion Larissa Eruera will play No 5.

The Press