THERE are no loyalty medals given out in interprovincial golf.
If there were, two of the men teeing up for Poverty Bay-East Coast on day 1 of the men’s national interprovincial in Northland would deservedly be wearing one.
Andrew Higham and William Brown are among the five-strong PBEC side for the week-long matchplay tournament being held on the picturesque Mangawhai course, an hour north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Higham, at the anchor No.5 slot in the side, is competing in his 10th national interprovincial dating back to 2004.
Brown, at No.3, is at his ninth consecutive national interprovincial — having made his debut at the age of 16.
Both men have been in every PBEC side for this prestigious amateur teams tournament since 2010.
Brown will this week notch his 50th national interprovincial match, an impressive statistic considering the greenkeeper is not yet 25 years of age.
The pair are joined in the 2017 PBEC side by teenager Tini Hawea, who has been thrust into the No.1 position, and Tokoroa cousins Nathaniel Cassidy (at No.2) and Kurtis Cortesi (No.3).
Cassidy is a joint member of Matamata and Tolaga Bay while Kortesi is at Tokoroa and Tolaga Bay.
The Tolaga Bay membership gives them eligibility to the PBEC side and both have worn the PBEC uniform at this event in the past.
Former King of the Coast men’s open champion Cassidy has played No.1 for PBEC for the past two years and was No.4 in 2014. Cortesi was in the 2013 side.
The notable absence from this year’s squad is Pete Kerekere. He would probably have played No.1 but is unavailable as his partner is due to give birth to twins.
PBEC start the week of matchplay with “a local derby” against Hawke’s Bay tomorrow morning.
The HB boys who played in last year’s tournament will no doubt have redemption on their minds after losing to PBEC, who had a memorable end to their 2016 campaign.
PBEC beat their neighbours 3-2, then finished the week with a 3½ 1½ defeat of Aorangi to finish 13th out of the 15 provinces.
Long-time team manager Dave Keown, who is doing the job again, summed up their week’s effort with the words “fighting spirit”, and that will be needed again this week.
Hawke’s Bay are ranked below PBEC on last year’s standings but go in on the back of a famous recent eight-man matchplay victory over Wellington — the national interprovincial defending champions.
Following the Hawke’s Bay tie, PBEC play Southland tomorrow afternoon, North Harbour and Canterbury on Wednesday, 2016 runners-up Otago on Thursday and Taranaki on Friday afternoon.
The women’s national interprovincial is also being held this week at the Sherwood Park course near Whangarei.
Gisborne’s Tessa McDonald is No.2 in the Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay team.