It’s been 18 years since Canterbury have won the Russell Grace Cup and the New Zealand Women’s Masters title, but they have done so today, with a 3-shot margin.
A new look team, led by manager Debbie Scott included Kim Moggach and Naomi Wallace in their masters debut, joined by 3-year veteran Kate Turner, along with Suzette Eastmond, who had played in only one other women’s masters, but for North Harbour. In comparison to some districts a ‘youngish’ team that was just consistent all three days of the tournament.
Canterbury’s opening round of 96, had them in a 4-way tie for second, trailing the leaders, North Harbour by two-shots. The 2017 winners Northland also opened with 96 points, as did the defending champions Waikato, and Aorangi.
The four person, 14 district tournament is scored over 4 rounds of gross stableford points. The best three scores per round contribute to the teams total. Round two saw Waikato soar to the lead with an impressive round of 99 points and a total of 195. Canterbury was still sitting in the leading groups but now 7-shots back, tied with Aorangi on 188, in 5th equal place.
The tournament has long been scheduled over a Friday to Sunday weekend. The third round, like many four-round tournaments, sees much movement especially as the 40 plus women, tough it out with two rounds on the Saturday.
In the toughest round of the tournament with fading weather on Saturday afternoon, Canterbury had another solid round of 98 points to have them back up to 2nd place, heading into today’s final. Waikato, Northland and North Harbour all slipped back with only the Bay of Plenty ahead of the mainlanders, but with a 5-shot lead.
Both Canterbury and Bay of Plenty had dominated the 27-year old tournament in the early years, with 10-wins between them in the years 1992 – 2003. Arguably both would have fancied their chances going into today’s final played in benign, cool, coastal conditions.
Canterbury saved their best for last with a dominating round of 101, the only district to score over 100 points in one round all tournament. Turner secured the first points, with 33, matched by Wallace also with 33, leaving Moggach to seal the win, with 35 points. A credible round of 31 points by Eastmond, was sadly not needed today.
All team members contributed at least one round, and the Russell Grace is heading back to Christchurch! A tremendous boost to a district that has had to cope with much over recent years, the last month in particular.
Bay of Plenty had to settle for second place, 3-shots back, after just not getting those much needed final points today. The team that included Diana Syer, Heather Keefe, Judy Cameron and Gillian Lees, still came in today with 93 points, credible but not enough to hold the lead that they had started the day with.
The bronze medal went to Northland, the strong team of Kylie Jacoby, Jenny Peters, Samantha Dangen and Alayna Cox. Jacoby and her team finished with 381 points, 6-shots back from the Cantab’s. This is still a young team to watch having been in the top 3 in as many years.
Waikato’s third round of 87 cost them yesterday and they finished in 4th place with 376 points. Led again by Robyn Pellow and Jill Morgan, they had another credible weekend but return to the land of the ‘Moo-loo’s empty handed this time. They will be back, for sure.
Chasing their 7th win, Southland had to settle for 5th place with 375 points, one shot behind Waikato. The ‘two Robyns’ the top scorers in their team again; Robyn Pullar with 132 and Robyn Boniface with 126 personal points.
Aorangi may rue not playing their strong reserve earlier and finished in 6th place with 370 points. The top scorer, Catherine Knight, a past professional, contributed in all four rounds with 139 points. Their 6thplacing was one up from their 2018 finish.
North Harbour would have to be feeling a little disappointed with their final place, 7th with 369 points. Down from a shared 2nd placing in 2018, they can however take much credit for their strong start to lead the tournament, especially with the inspirational opening round by captain, Vaha Fapiano. Fapiano, one of the most steadiest players in the women’s masters line up, year after year, trotted out 6 birdies to finish 6-under the card, and 42 points. The card is now hanging in the Nelson Golf Club, as a course record.
Harbour did pip long-time rivals Auckland by one point, who finished in 8th place on 368 points. Top scorer for this 4-time winning district, was Brigit Holford with 126 points.
Taranaki finished in 9th place with 350 points, one place behind their 2018 position, with Manawatu Wanganui in 10th place, no change from their 2018 placing. Manawatu Wanganui did have cause to celebrate with the Canterbury Shield for the best individual being awarded to Lisa Herbert.
The twice crowned World Left Handed Women’s Golf Champion and a member of the winning Queen Sirikit Cup team when the Asia Pacific teams championship was held at Paraparaumu in 1999, Herbert’s points, 34, 34 and 35 along with a 4-under round contributing 40 points, gave the accurate left-hander a total of 143 points. Herbert finished 4 points ahead of Diana Syer (Bay of Plenty) and Catherine Knight (Aorangi).
Tasman, the host district, bettered their 2018 position by 3 places, up to 11th place, Hawkes Bay / Poverty Bay finished in 12th place, with Wellington and Otago in 13th and 14th places respectively.
The biggest movers in 2019, were of course Canterbury, who had finished last year in 13th place at Inglewood, but are now the 2019 champions. Canterbury will defend their title and the Russell Grace Cup in Auckland, where the 2020 New Zealand Women’s Masters is scheduled to be held. New Zealand Golf are expected to announce the venue shortly.
Results published here: