Otago (1st) V Island Park (2nd)
After comprehensive semi-final victories, Otago and Island Park will contest the 2019 Metropolitan Senior A final. Both sides showed why they were the best two teams in the competition during round robin play with emphatic wins over Chisholm Links and St Clair last weekend, now they must square off the see who will be crowned champions.
Otago must be favourites, not only have they gone through the season unbeaten, they demolished Island Park twice during the regular season with resounding 5-1 and 5.5-0.5 victories. Nicknamed ‘The Bombers’, they boast many a long hitter and with the long Taieri Lakes course holding many demanding tee shots, this suits the Otago side down to the ground. Key players to Otago’s season have been Nick Borren and Ben Patston who are both yet to be beaten. The supporting cast of Duncan Croudis, Callum Judkins and Brandon Hodgson are not to be taken lightly either, with all three players coming off the back of a successful 2018 where they represented Otago at the Toro Interprovincial. Add the powerful and unbeaten Dylan Stock to the mix and Otago will fancy their chances of securing at least the minimum 3.5 points to secure victory and allow celebrations back at the Balmacewen clubhouse.
After 2 semi-final appearances since their inception, Island Park are playing in their first Senior A pennant final and may be happy to hold the underdog tag given the calibre of players in their side. Despite the losses to Otago earlier in the year, they now have their best players available, and hitting their straps at the right time. Michael Smith and Chris Snow are both former Otago Matchplay champions, and given their record this season, it’s easy to see why. Mike Wray has been a rock for them in the past 4 weeks, none more so than in his convincing 6/5 win over Otago great, Tony Giles last weekend. Phil Bungard is a proven ball striker, and a deadly putter who has only been beaten once all year. If these players play to their potential, expect a ding-dong battle and the result to go right down to the wire.
Key Group: 5 & 6
If Island Park are to bring their first Senior A banner back to the Waldronville club, they will need to be inspirationally led by their captain Michael Minty. Minty is the heart and soul of the Island Park side, such is his dedication he has only missed one pennant match for his side in the last six years. Minty’s clash versus promising student Callum Judkins could be the swing factor. Otago may well dominate the top matches at 1 & 2, and Island Park will believe they have the edge at 3 & 4, this leaves the golfers at 5 & 6 who are first out on the course, to be the pairing that could be the point of difference, and determine victory for their side. Similar to Island Park, Otago are playing their captain in the early group with Ben Patston facing Monty Wong in an attempt to get early points. Whoever wrestles control in this group, could go a long way towards deciding our champions.
Guest Selector’s Prediction (winner in bold)
Otago v Island Park
Nick Borren v Mike Wray
Brandon Hodgson v Phil Bungard
Duncan Croudis v Moxy Smith
Dylan Stock v Chris Snow
Ben Patston v Monty Wong
Callum Judkins v Michael Minty
Otago 3 ½ to beat Island Park 2 ½