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Poverty Bay-East Coast men's golf team on a mission

Birdies key to rise in pecking order.

Poverty Bay-East Coast men's golf team's mission to lift themselves off the bottom of the New Zealand provincial pecking order is all about one word . . . birdies.

PBEC are in Ashburton for the 2021 New Zealand Men's Interprovincial, which they start tomorrow morning against Otago.

The six-man PBEC team comprise a wealth of experience and one newbie — 21-year-old Regan Hindmarsh.

Patutahi member Hindmarsh is at No.5 in a side who welcome back seasoned interprovincial players Andrew Higham and Peter Kerekere.

Higham and Kerekere were not in the 2020 team who finished 15th and last — suffering several 5-0 whitewashes and managing only two individual wins over the week.

Their return is a significant boost, with Higham taking on the daunting challenge of playing at No.1 and Kerekere at No.4.

Hukanui Brown is No.2, William Brown No.3 and Dwayne Russell reserve.

Should he be needed, Russell will add his name to a select list to play at the national interprovincial and Freyberg masters (over-40s) interprovincial in the same year.

The selection of Higham and Hukanui Brown at the top of the order is a matchplay tactic.

“These two can make a lot of birdies,” PBEC team manager Dave Keown said.

“If Andy can get going, he's a birdie machine.”

Higham has shown that in the past. Some of the country's top players have been on the receiving end of Higham's attacking nature and fearless putting.

Hukanui Brown can also unlock the aviary while Kerekere and William Brown can go deep into the red as well when on song.

Kerekere is the potential rock of this side. His tactical nous, almost perfectionist-like attitude and determination make him an ideal lower-order player.

William Brown has been in sensational form at times this year. He goes into his 13th consecutive national interprovincial playing probably as well as he ever has.

In 2009, he won his first match on his debut and it would be no surprise to see him add more Ws to his collection this week.

Keown has a good feeling about this side, enhanced by what he sees as “a nice draw”.

PBEC have Otago first up, followed by defending champions Canterbury tomorrow afternoon, hosts Aorangi and Bay of Plenty on Wednesday, Manawatu-Wanganui on Thursday and Northland on Friday morning.

Only 13 provinces are competing this year. Auckland and North Harbour cannot travel south due to the Covid situation.

Keown says the PBEC team know each other well and have a strong bond.

“There's good depth of experience from one to four,” he said.

“They've got a good draw for a change so we'll see what happens.”

DAUNTING CHALLENGE: Andrew Higham will play at No.1 for the Poverty Bay-East Coast golf team taking part in the New Zealand Men’s Interprovincial in Ashburton. Poverty Bay-East Coast start their tournament tomorrow morning, against Otago. File pictures by Paul Rickard
TARGET IN SIGHT: Peter Kerekere returns to interprovincial duty this week when he takes the No.4 spot in a Poverty Bay-East Coast team out to lift their ranking among New Zealand provincial teams.