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No new tricks needed by this old dog

Shootout finals were held at Poverty Bay, Electrinet Park and Tolaga Bay golf clubs on Sunday. The shootout is a hole-by-hole contest in which the player with the worst net score (off handicap) on each hole is eliminated. If there is more than one player with the worst net, a chip-off or putt-off is held to decide who goes. Herald chief sub-editor Chris Taewa was among the field in the Poverty Bay men's final. Here's how he saw it.

“THERE'S still life in the old dog.”

So said Spud Murphy after celebrating his recent 60th by becoming the 2021 Andy Abrahams 19-man shootout champion at Poverty Bay Golf Club on Sunday.

The cart-driving, straight-hitting, cigar-smoking, former Poverty Bay-East Coast No.1 calmly outchipped Brent Colbert on the 18th to clinch the title, $600 first prize and an extra $70 in bonus skinners.

Off a 9-handicap, the 2000 Poverty Bay men's open champion appeared to be in cruise mode all day. He may not have the distance of his rep days but Murphy more than made up for that by popping drives down the middle with robotic-like regularity.

At the other end of the hole, his chipping and putting — with the same putter he has used for decades — were near flawless, highlighted when he nonchalantly slotted a 30-foot curling putt for birdie on the 16th.

That Colbert and Murphy were the last two standing was probably fitting. Bar a couple of missed fairways, 5-handicapper “Colby” stayed out of trouble and also thrived on the sharpish and true Bay greens.

The pair both made net fours on the 18th — Colbert's birdie putt going agonisingly close — meaning a chip-off was required to decide who pocketed the biggest bucks.

Colbert's was a decent effort. Murphy's was better.

The day started with 19 players teeing off the first hole and one by one falling by the wayside until one remained.

Carl Carmody was the first to go after making triple-bogey eight on the first.

Kit Goldsmith lost a putt-off — which included older brother Tene — on the second and Peter Goodwin followed in a chip-off on the third.

A quadruple-8 on the fourth proved Willy Mortleman's demise and arguably the pre-final favourite, Peter Hakiwai, went in a chip-off on the fifth.

Johnny Van Helden skulled a bunker shot out of bounds on the sixth and departed after tapping in for triple-bogey 6.

Sponsor Andy Abrahams exited on the seventh after losing his ball off the tee.

Brad Morgan three-putted his way out of contention on the eighth.

Defending champion Andy Hayward raised the white flag after taking four shots to get out of the bunker on the ninth — his performance drawing references to Metallica's hit song Enter Sandman (renamed Exit Sandman in Hayward's case) particularly the line “off to Never Never Land”.

Top qualifier Stu Harbottle, the proud new owner of a spiffing West Ham golf bag, repeated 2020 history in being eliminated on the 10th.

Neil Mackie, after conquering his shootout demons of the past by surviving the dreaded second hole, lasted nine more before farewelling the contest on the 11th.

William Brown, off a +3 handicap, survived a couple of scares but drove left on the 12th and couldn't find his ball. He made a three-putt double bogey after hitting a sensational fourth shot on to the green.

The shootout came to an end on the 13th for the highest handicapped player in the field, Warwick Thompson (23).

Chris Taewa, who had shown the survival skills of Diehard's John McClane, waved “yipee-ki-yay” on the 14th — the same hole his wife Rochelle went out in the women's final 10 minutes before.

Dean Twigley eliminated Taewa in a chip-off then promptly drove into the jungle off the 15th tee, couldn't find his ball and eventually headed home a couple of hundie richer.

That left four — Murphy, Colbert, Mark Jefferson and Tene Goldsmith.

Goldsmith didn't do much wrong but his bogey on the 16th was not enough and the 74-year-old tipped his cap a hole short of where he finished in 2020.

Jefferson, after hanging tough a few times over the day, couldn't make the par he needed on 17 to force a three-man chip-off, leaving Murphy and Colbert to duel for the crown.

Reports on other finals in Golf Roundup, page 30

GET IN THE HOLE: Spud Murphy watches his successful birdie attempt on the 16th hole during the men's shootout final at Poverty Bay on Sunday. Murphy went on to win the title, with Brent Colbert runner-up. Picture by Gray Clapham