King of the Coast is back
JORDAN Rangihika doesn’t need to be told seeding means nothing when it comes to matchplay golf.
The Waikato school teacher, who hails from Kawerau, was No.1 seed at the 2018 King of the Coast, only to be bundled out in the first round by bottom-ranked local Bruce Yates in the Tolaga Bay-hosted tournament.
Rangihika is back for the 2019 edition this weekend and as the lowest-handicapped player in the field (+0.1) is again top of the rankings.
But it’s only a number. Below him are a championship group boasting 10 KoTC crowns. Every winner since Simon Jenkins in 2007 is in tomorrow’s field.
Rangihika, who teaches at Peachgrove Intermediate in Hamilton, is among the very best of those who have not lifted the trophy. And he goes in on the back of some impressive form capped by his integral role in Kawerau Golf Club’s victory in the championship division of the Bay of Plenty men’s interclub pennants.
He collected 10½ out of a possible 12 points in Kawerau’s triumphant campaign, underlining a matchplay talent and savvy that could see the visitors leave the Coast with the spoils for a third consecutive year.
Adding to the powerful outside forces are defending champion and Rotorua Boys’ High School student James Tauariki, 2015 winner and last year’s runner-up Nathaniel Cassidy (Matamata), 2017 champion Tyson Tawera (Hawke’s Bay) and Kurtis Cortesi (Matamata).
Tauariki was machine-like on his way to 2018 glory in his first time at the two-day tournament. He followed it up later in the year with a sublime round of 13-under 57 at his home Springfield course, then teed off 2019 by winning the New Zealand Maori title in Taupo at the age of just 16 — three years younger than Michael Campbell was when he won that title.
Last year, local players were shut out of the semifinals — possibly for the first time in the tournament’s history.
It is difficult to see that happening this time.
Andrew Higham (a member of Te Puia Springs and Poverty Bay) knows all about ascending the throne at Tolaga. He first did it in 2004 and followed up with wins in 2012 and 2013.
Peter Kerekere (Poverty Bay) was the last local player to lift the trophy — in 2016 — while Te Raumati “Tini” Hawea (PB) is believed to be the youngest winner at 15 years of age in 2014.
Expect Tony Akroyd (Patutahi) to strongly represent the 40-plussers. He won it way back in 2001 and was runner-up to Kerekere 15 years later.
There are three chances of Brown being the surname on this year’s silverware — Patutahi brothers Eddie and Hukanui, and Poverty Bay greenkeeper William, who needs a first KoTC title to complete the Poverty Bay-East Coast “triple crown” of Poverty Bay Open, East Coast Open and King of the Coast wins on his golfing CV.
Among the most feared players in the championship hunt is Mahia’s Peter Bremner — another flying the masters-aged flag — who had back-to-back KoTC triumphs in 2009 and 2010 and was runner-up to Tawera in 2017. He is in good form heading into the weekend.
Former Fijian international Anuresh Chandra (Gisborne Park) is also a likely contender.
Tolaga Bay is again guaranteed to turn on its famous hospitality.
The township will be humming tomorrow as it is also hosting the East Coast club rugby final between Uawa and TVC at Uawa Domain.