Dogs have their day in foursomes stunner
ONE of the most famous quotes in Poverty Bay-East Coast golf resurfaced after Paul Rickard and Brad Morgan wrote themselves into the history books at the weekend.
“Expect it when you least expect it.”
These words were famously uttered by rank underdog Alistair Higgins before embarking on a 1993 East Coast Open campaign that ended in a 2 and 1 win over Simon Whale in the championship 16 final at Te Puia Hot Springs Golf Club.
At the time, only Higgins considered he could pull it off — one person more than the number who believed Rickard and Morgan would win the gross at the 2018 Enterprise Motor Warehouse Poverty Bay men’s open foursomes at the Poverty Bay course on Saturday.
In a result some are calling the greatest upset in PBEC men’s golfing history, 63-year-old Rickard and Morgan, 30 years his junior, got to raise and fill the giant open foursomes trophy engraved with the names of many of the top players of today and yesteryears.
Fuelled by a steady supply of liquid refreshments over the course of the day, the pair carded rounds of 78, 74 to beat three-time winners Peter Kerekere and William Brown on countback.
Kerekere and Brown, both long-time Poverty Bay-East Coast representatives, shot 75, 77 and were as shocked as everyone else — not at being beaten, but by who had beaten them.
To appreciate the enormity of this achievement, one only has to compare handicaps.
Rickard is on a 15, Morgan, 12.
Brown is on -1, Kerekere, 1.
The Gisborne Herald photographer (Rickard) and Donaldson Plumbing plumber (Morgan), in theory, should have been 12 to 14 shots higher than Brown and Kerekere for each round.
Rickard and Morgan went about compiling the lowest net score in the 40-odd-year history of the foursomes, including a brilliant sub-par final nine holes that proved the differenceInstead they went about compiling the lowest net score in the 40-odd-year history of the foursomes, including a brilliant sub-par final nine holes that proved the difference.
Having teed off the 10th in the afternoon and shot 4-over 40 for that nine holes — which included a Rickard chip-in for birdie-2 on the 11th and a triple bogey-8 on the 12th after Rickard drove out of bounds — they went birdie berserk.
Morgan slotted a 20-foot putt on the second for their second two of the round; Rickard chipped in for birdie-3 on the fourth; Rickard sank a 20-footer for birdie on the fifth; and Morgan drained a 30-footer for two on the sixth — completing the rare feat of twos on all three of the Bay’s par-3s.
They played the homeward nine in 2-under 34 for 2-over 74 and a 152 total.
Shooting a lower score than Kerekere and Brown in that second round gave them the gross honours on countback.
Their net score of 125 (64.5 and 60.5 off a handicap of 13.5) was 14 shots better than the next best — sponsor representative Steve Shields and Central School principal Andy Hayward, who won the overall net.
What makes Rickard, who had a major knee operation last year, and Morgan’s feat the more incredible is the format.
Foursomes involves teams of two taking alternate shots with the one ball until the hole is completed. The pressure is on both players to perform and this particular tournament has regularly produced some horrific scoring.
Playing to your handicap (an average of the two players’ combined handicaps) is seen as a very good score. Rickard and Morgan finished 19-under their handicap.
Getting his name on this trophy in which 101 golf balls can fit was fitting for Rickard.
Years ago — Rickard can’t recall how many — he was at Vanessa Lowndes Centre to get some Gisborne Thistle Football Club trophies engraved when he noticed an impressive piece of silverware.
It was the foursomes cup, which had been sitting there unclaimed for about five years.
“It had been engraved but no one had picked it up,” said Rickard. “Apparently no one knew it was there.”
Rickard informed tournament sponsor Fred Lewis, who told him to send him the bill, and the trophy was resurrected.
“Who would have thought, all these years on, I’d be presented it.”