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‘Big-time player’ delivers

. . . and PBEC earn long-awaited team victory.

It could be the Tairāwhiti sporting call of the year.

Just before sealing Poverty Bay-East Coast a famous victory on Day 1 of the national interprovincial golf tournament at Ashburton Golf Club yesterday, Regan Hindmarsh said these two words to his caddie: “Big-time player.”

He then proceeded to chip in for birdie on the last hole and cement PBEC a team win against Otago, as the smallest golfing province in the country made a massive opening statement.

PBEC defeated Otago 3½-1½ in Round 1 of the week-long matchplay tournament.

In the space of one round they surpassed their 2020 campaign when they finished a distant 15th and last with just two individual wins to their name.

To put the magnitude of yesterday's win into context, Otago has around 50 courses while PBEC has eight, and only two of those are 18 holes.

Hindmarsh, at No.5 in the five-man playing squad, is a member of country club Patutahi and is competing in his first national interprovincial.

He was the star of the first round but not the day.

That honour belonged to No.3 William Brown — a greenkeeper and member at Poverty Bay and Te Puia Springs but with his roots in nine-hole track Waikohu.

Brown, playing in his 13th consecutive national interprovincial, had two wins from two matches yesterday as PBEC followed up their first-round win with a 4-1 loss to defending champions Canterbury in the afternoon.

Brown won both his matches 3 and 2 and, while typically modest about his performance, was clearly rapt with how he played.

“I had my best striking display for as long as I can remember, just solid all round,” he said.

And that is saying something considering Brown has been in great touch and is probably the best ball striker in the province.

No.2 Hukanui Brown provided the other win against Otago — a 4 and 3 success the big man from Patutahi summed up succintly.

“Just hit the driver well; made some putts.”

No.4 Pete Kerekere, a member at Poverty Bay, also had a dramatic end to his first-round match. He made birdie to snatch a share of the honours in a clash he described as “birdies flying everywhere”.

No.1 Andrew Higham, a member of Te Puia Springs and the Bay, also went all the way before losing 1-down.

While Hindmarsh was still buzzing in the background at the end of the day's play, the story of his dream start was left for caddie and team reserve Dwayne Russell to tell, with some additional information from Kerekere.

Playing the 370-metre par-4 ninth hole — they started on the 10th — Hindmarsh hit a good drive but missed the green with his 8-iron approach, leaving his ball about 12 metres from the pin.

With 60-degree wedge in hand, he looked at Russell and said “big-time player”. And holed it for his fifth birdie of the round.

PBEC fought hard against Canterbury but the reigning champions proved too strong.

William Brown provided the highlight with his 16th-hole win.

Higham lost 5 and 4 (to New Zealand amateur strokeplay champion Kazuma Kobori), Hukanui Brown 3 and 2, Kerekere 5 and 4 and Hindmarsh 3 and 1.

That took nothing away from a memorable day for the bottom-ranked province, and long-time team manager Dave Keown could not contain his delight and pride, particularly in the morning performance.

“It was unbelievable. Absolutely amazing. Sensational golf from a sensational group of guys.”

Keown said Hindmarsh “fought like the proverbial dog” in the afternoon while William Brown played “out of his skin” against Canterbury.

All the players were striking the ball solidly and had “absolute focus” on the task in hand.

What also impressed Keown was that they were not giving away easy holes. Their opponents were made to work hard for any holes they won.

PBEC had a great team spirit and bond and were all on the same page when it came to what they wanted to achieve.

“Everyone is on board.”

PBEC ended yesterday in a four-province tie for second, although three teams behind them had played only one round in the 13-province competition. Auckland and North Harbour are absent due to Covid-19.

Today PBEC were to face hosts Aorangi and Bay of Plenty.

He delivered: Regan Hindmarsh in golf Super 8 action for Gisborne Boys’ High School not so long ago. Hindmarsh, 21, chipped in from 12 metres on the last hole to win his match and clinch a team victory for Poverty Bay-East Coast against Otago at the national interprovincial golf tournament at Ashburton yesterday.File picture by Paul Rickard