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Mr Reliable prevents team whitewash


The Mr Reliable of the Poverty Bay-East Coast men’s golf team kept his reputation somewhat intact at the Toro national interprovincial in Hastings yesterday.

Andrew Higham has a history of producing something special at the pinnacle amateur men’s teams’ matchplay event.

But heading into PBEC’s last sectional round-robin tie on the Bridge Pa course yesterday morning, Higham was staring at the possiblity of losing all six of his matches.

The No.5 in the five-man PBEC team responded with a whitewash-saving victory against Southland.

Higham beat Brad Harper 3 and 2 as PBEC went down 4-1 to the southerners.

It consigned PBEC to 15th and last place overall; they had lost all five of their other team clashes.

The record books will show they were beaten 4-1 by Aorangi, 4-1 by Auckland, 4-1 by Waikato, 4½-½ by Wellington, 5-0 by Otago and 4-1 by Southland.

What the record won’t show is that the players from the smallest province in New Zealand — two 18-hole courses and a smattering of country clubs — were consistently competitive throughout the week without scoreboard reward.

Their worst individual losses were on the 14th while several matches went to the 18th.

As has been an issue in other years, they couldn’t finish the job when it came to the business end.

That has proved the difference between PBEC and the bigger provinces, whose players are regularly put into those pressure situations through representative golf and high-quality interclub pennants series and other strokeplay events.

The Southland defeat followed the PBEC trend for the week.

No.1 Pete Anderson lost 2 and 1, No.2 William Brown 3 and 2, No.3 Peter Kerekere 1-down and No.4 Hukanui Brown 4 and 3.

Team manager Dave Keown, before the Southland clash, praised the efforts of his team.

And despite the overall finish, they were far from disgraced.

A grave issue facing PBEC in the future, however, is a lack of rep-quality depth and an Old Mother Hubbard cupboard when it comes to juniors.

The likes of William Brown, Higham and Kerekere have been loyal servants for many years.

What happens if or when they become unavailable?

Who is there to fill their shoes?

PBEC golf has challenges that need to be addressed, particularly at junior level.

There was no PBEC team for the Junior Interprovincial boys’ matchplay at Cambrige Golf Club and, inexplicably, for the first time in history, no PBEC side at the Booth Shield junior interprovincial.

Should this continue, the issue of amalgamation with Hawke’s Bay at interprovincial level could rear its head at senior men’s level.

The semifinalists were confirmed yesterday afternoon. North Harbour faced Otago this morning while Auckland took on Manawatu-Wanganui.

Meanwhile, Poverty Bay will be well represented at the women’s national interprovincial at Hawke’s Bay’s Maraenui course next week.

Tessa McDonald is playing No.1 in the Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay team while teenager Ellen Ball is reserve.

The matchplay tournament starts on Tuesday.

LAST RESULT BEST: Andrew Higham saved his best result of the national interprovincial golf tournament for the last day, when he beat Southland’s Brad Harper 3 and 2. Picture by Paul Rickard