Otago has received a severe blow with the news of unavailability of Fraser MacLachlan for this year’s teams.
He is planning to attend the Asian Tour Qualifying School in Thailand as well as the Australian Tour School in Melbourne.
Both schools involve two stages and this commitment runs from November 28 until December 15, precluding MacLachlan from playing in the national interprovincial tournament.
MacLachlan (27) represented Wellington twice and, since venturing south to Queenstown, has played for Otago in the past three national interprovincial tournaments.
MacLachlan finished with three wins and a half at No1 for Otago last year and has shown his ability to compete under pressure in this position.
At Ngamotu in New Plymouth in 2016, he got up and down with a difficult sloping 2m putt on the final hole against Northland’s Luke Brown to ensure Otago made the semifinals.
He moved south four years ago, and is involved with his father in a forestry business near Queenstown.
MacLachlan has played little golf during the busy winter months but started well by finishing as the best Otago player in second in the 72-hole Queenstown event 10 days ago.
With the business in full flight during the winter months, MacLachlan is now keen to get match-fit in the weeks leading up to the qualifying schools.
He will compete in the Wellington strokeplay championship next week which will enable him to visit his family on the Kapiti Coast.
He will then compete in the Harewood Open in Christchurch followed by the NZ Amateur at Wairakei in Taupo.
MacLachlan will not be relinquishing his amateur status and may be available for Otago in future years.
However, if he is successful in one or other of the qualifying schools he may embark on a career as a professional.
The void as Otago No1 may be filled by last year’s Southland No1 Scott Hellier who has joined the Clinton club and has put his name forward as an Otago triallist.
However, he cannot compete in the first round of Otago trials as with the early spring he has had little time out from lambing.
He will play at Arrowtown, Cromwell and in the Otago matchplay event at Balmacewen during Labour Weekend which will hopefully be enough for him to be considered for the final quintet.