PBEC accentuating the positive
Poverty Bay-East Coast this morning sharpened their swords for one last assault at what has been a Battle of Hastings for the country’s smallest golfing union.
Sitting bottom of Section 2 at the national men’s interprovincial being staged on the Bridge Pa course in Hastings, PBEC were determined to lift one more time in a must-win clash with Southland.
A 5-0 loss to Otago yesterday kept PBEC at the foot of the table on 0 team points and 3½ individual points.
Just ahead of them were Southland on 0 and 6.
There are two rounds today, but PBEC have a bye in this afternoon’s final round of round-robin play from which the top two teams in each section advance to the semifinals.
Long-time manager Dave Keown has ridden a roller-coaster of PBEC national interprovincial campaigns over the years.
This year has been a tough campaign — five consecutive team losses — but he has retained a positivity blended with reality when it comes to this level.
“They’re trying really hard,” Keown said yesterday after the Otago defeat.
“These guys just keep on firing,” he said of their opponents.
A classic example of that came in the match played by PBEC No.2 William Brown yesterday.
Keown said that Brown had five birdies in his round against Brandon Hodgson but lost 3 and 2.
“I was really proud of the way the guys played today,” Keown said.
“Not one of the guys we played today was over the card.”
Two of the matches went to the 18th — No.3 Peter Kerekere lost 1-down and No.4 Hukanui Brown was beaten 2-down.
No.1 Pete Anderson, having battled the dreaded shanks most of the week, played solidly in a 3 and 2 loss, while No.5 Andrew Higham was beaten 5 and 4.
Heading into today, unbeaten Otago were sitting second in their section, which was led by Auckland.
Keown did not give excuses. Rather, he put their situation into perspective.
“I think it is an absolute lack of quadrangulars and things like that,” he said, referring to the fact that PBEC no longer have smaller interprovincial fixtures.
Their only representative experience nowadays is a 10-man clash with Hawke’s Bay months out from the national interprovincial.
Anderson at least had the benefit of a week of hard matchplay at the Freyberg Masters (over-40s) interprovincial this month. The rest of the PBEC team are under 40.
Against that lack of competitive build-up for PBEC, all other provinces have the benefits of a pool of immense talent and the experience gained from regular matchplay and strokeplay.
Almost every other province has players who only play golf as they aspire to pro careers.
When asked what he does for a living, Waikato No.1 Charlie Smail told Brown’s caddie this week, “I play golf”.
William Brown’s Auckland opponent — Jang Hyun Lee — plays off a -4 handicap. Brown, who lost to Lee on the 17th, is on 3, seven higher than Lee’s handicap.
Those sorts of comparisons make Poverty Bay-East Coast’s successes all the more impressive.
Hukanui Brown, who is on a 3, thumped Auckland’s Kunaal Singh, off -2, 6 and 5 — a performance Keown described as “unbelievable”.
Singh went out the next day and trounced his Southland opponent 9 and 7.
Kerekere had a fine 5 and 4 win against Aorangi while William Brown’s two halves on Day 2 — he won the last hole in both matches — were testament to his composure under pressure.
Keown also praised the efforts of No.5 Neil Hansen in his national interprovicial debut.
“He had a nervous start but played some very good golf.”
Keown felt that if PBEC reproduced the golf they played against Otago they would “go close” in this morning’s tie with Southland.
• Tolaga Bay Golf Club will hold its annual Christmas tournament on Sunday. Competition will be in men’s and mixed pairs sections and all are welcome. Two-tee starts will run from 8.15am and 12.15pm. Players to report 15 minutes before these times. Inquiries can be made to Jeremy Murphy 021 485 658 or Tere Lincoln 021 392 544.