In Week 49, the Bay of Plenty won the New Zealand Interprovincial Championship in Nelson, despite trailing Wellington in three of five matches with only seven holes remaining. In what was a thrilling finish to the championship decider, the Bay of Plenty overcame the odds to triumph 4 – 1 at Greenacres Golf Club.
Bay’s wins went to captain Mark Smith, who overcame previously unbeaten Thomas Spearman-Burn 6 and 4; rookie Ben Taylor 1-up over Adam Church; former Taranaki player Troy Ropiha 1-up over Peter Spearman-Burn; and Eisenhower Trophy player Jared Pender 1-up over Andrew Green.
“Every win in this competition has been special but this one is extra special,” said Smith, who has been a member of all five winning Bay of Plenty teams. “I was quite lucky just to make the team and from a personal viewpoint I have been really pleased with how I played.
Remarkably, Bay have now won five of the last seven Interprovincial Championships having waited 50 years for their first.
Across the Tasman Sea, Kieran Pratt shot a final-round six-under-par 66 to take the Dunes Medal ahead of the likes of Matt Jager and Luke Bleumink. The 21-year-old’s total of 282 was enough to register a one-stroke victory over Brett Drewitt, who closed with a disappointing one-over-par 73.
Having come close to winning major amateur titles at both the Riversdale Cup and the Victorian Amateur in 2008, his maiden triumph at the Dunes Golf Links came as something of a relief.
“It kind of feels like I’ve finally got the monkey off my back,” explained Pratt, who is rewarded with a 63-place leap to WAGRank 175. “I’ve done a lot of work through the VIS over the last twelve months and it’s all starting to come together for me. My course management is better and I feel like I’ve been able to go to another level with my game.”
Finally, in Malaysia, Singapore’s Jonathan Leong won the Johor Amateur Open at the Palm Resort Golf & Country Club. A final round of level-par 72 was enough for a three-round tournament total of 215 and a two-stroke margin of victory. Leong ends Week 49 WAGRanked 523, 185 places higher than the previous week.
France’s Victor Dubuisson remains WAGR Number One.