It's war without bloodshed
THE Battle of the Blades.
You won’t read about it in any war history book and no blood will be spilled, but there will be casualties, there will be heroic actions and by the end of the East Coast open at Te Puia Springs this weekend, there will be a victor.
Going on recent history, the deadliest weapon in the champion’s arsenal is almost certain to be the putter.
The common denominator to glory has been the blade including that of defending champion Anaru Reedy, who will be back at the Springs tomorrow on a quest to make it five championship 16 crowns in the sixth time he has played in it.
Reedy, who won his first East Coast Open title in 2003, last year wielded his putter like Jon Snow’s sword slashing through Whitewalkers.
“The putter was hot all weekend,” he said after making six birdies and shooting 4-under 62 in his 3 and 2 win over Simon Jeune in the final.
Jeune’s short game dominance the year before earned him a breakthrough first Open win. And in 2015, Andrew Higham’s fearless putting was rewarded with his second EC Open honour.
Higham and Jeune have been prominent figures in recent editions, Higham winning it in 2011 and 2015, and finishing runner-up in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Both are back for another tilt.
The top seed heading into tomorrow morning’s first round of matchplay is Poverty Bay greenkeeper and the pride of Waikohu, William Brown.
The man his mates call “Breezy” is on a +0.8 and has fired a bunch of hot rounds over the past couple of months, signalling it’s time to break an EC Open drought dating back to his first and only win in 2010.
Second seed Pete Kerekere has unfinished business at this tournament. His best finish is runner-up to Reedy in 2006.
Going one better would complete the “Triple Crown” of Poverty Bay-East Coast golf — victories in the Poverty Bay Open, King of the Coast and East Coast Open, a feat only Higham has achieved out of this weekend’s field. There are a couple of “outsiders” out to disrupt the locals. Kawerau’s Zane Rangihika is seeded fourth and Graeme McLellan, one of the Miramar contingent who continue to support this tournament, is 12th.
The Brown whanau is well represented, with brothers Eddie and Hukanui and their cousin Jace flying the Patutahi flag.
As of yesterday, Tene Goldsmith occupied the 16th and bottom seeding in the championship group.
At over 70, he is by far the oldest in a division in which every 10-year age group from the 20s to 70s is represented.
The best conditions could be in today’s practice round. Light rain is forecast for tomorrow, and rain and developing easterlies are predicted for Sunday.