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Rankin closing in on No.400

BREAKING your age is among the ultimate achievements in amateur golf but for Peter Rankin it's par for the course.

The 79-year-old Wellingtonian top-qualified for the first 16 on the opening day of the New Zealand 66th National Veteran Championship on the Poverty Bay course yesterday.

A member of the Royal Wellington course, Rankin shot 2-over 74 — five shots under his age.

Not exactly a mean feat for the retired scientist.

It's the 395th time he has done it, the first of those a 68 on his home course when he was 69.

And yes, he is keeping tally.

“That's the challenge each time I go out,” he said yesterday after receiving the Past Presidents Trophy for the top gross in qualifying.

Rankin is a former Wellington representative at national interprovincial and masters level.

Yesterday was the second time he had played on the Bay course — he had a practice round on Saturday — since 1963 or '64, he said.

He had 75 on Saturday, adding Poverty Bay to the 60-odd courses on which he has broken his age.

Rankin nabbed the No.1 seeding for the ensuing matchplay in five groups of 16 for the week-long tournament.

The field was already split into 16s on handicap but the national tournament format features a strokeplay qualifying round to decide the order of each 16.

Rankin ended two shots ahead of No.2 qualifier Tene Goldsmith, a member of Poverty Bay.

Five players followed on 78. They included Electrinet Gisborne Park member Anaru Reedy, the warm favourite for the top-16 title.

Playing off a +3 handicap, 50-year-old Reedy had what would have been a disappointing score for his standard, but he remains the player to beat.

Several Poverty Bay members enjoyed trophy success in the qualifying round.

Carl Carmody won the Don Stubbings Trophy for the best overall net after carding 81-13-68.

Bill Simpson won the Patrons Trophy for best overall stableford — 89-21-68, for 40 points. It was his first round under 90 since January 2020.

Goldsmith won the Rex Bridge Trophy for the best gross by a player over 70 years of age. Rankin actually had the lowest score in this category but it is one prize per player for the individual honours.

Goldsmith was also a member of the Trust Bank Trophy-winning three-man teams event featuring a senior, intermediate and junior division player in each side. Cambridge's Ray Skiffington (int) and Poverty Bay's Warwick Thompson (jnr) completed the winning three.

Around 20 women are also competing in the tournament.

Home-course player Marg Colebourne topped their scoring yesterday with the best gross and stableford of 85-17-68 for 42 points.

She was one point ahead of New Zealand Veteran Golfers Association secretary Launa Seddon, a late fill-in to play.

Players ranging in age from 50 to 91 and from as far north as the Waikato to as far south as Dunedin are competing at the week-long Covid-affected event.

vet winners: Among the trophy winners from the qualifying round on Day 1 of the National Veteran Championship at the Poverty Bay course yesterday are (from left) Bill Simpson (of Poverty Bay), Peter Rankin (Royal Wellington), Carl Carmody (PB), Tene Goldsmith (PB), Ray Skiffington (Cambridge) and Warwick Thompson (PB). Rankin posted the lowest score of the day — 2-over 74. It was the 395th time the 79-year-old had broken his age.Picture by Chris Taewa