The 2020 Woodward Cup competition starts this Sunday at Pegasus and indications from Team Managers are that their teams are all well prepared and raring to go, with a number of teams already having played several warm-up matches over the past few weeks in readiness for the match play format. For many it’s been some time since they have enjoyed competitive golf, so it’s shaping up to be a great season with particular interest around the return of a number of top flite younger players still in Canterbury, pending their possible return to University golf in the United States.
Hosts Pegasus have retained a similar squad to last year with the addition of South African Reinhardt van Zyl, and Canterbury Sportsman of the Year Kazuma Kobori also being available is a real bonus for the North Canterbury club. This duo together with NZ Senior Rep Peter Brinsdon and top Canterbury junior Zach May will strengthen the top order. They will meet last year’s runner-up Russley in the first round who will be determined to go one better this year and will also field a relatively unchanged squad with Hiroki Miya and Ben Baker fortunate COVID-19 bonuses, both currently back from University in America. With Canterbury Rep Reid Hilton also in the top order Russley will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with, with some intriguing match-ups likely in this early clash.
Woodward Cup Champions Christchurch play newly promoted Avondale, which should be an interesting tussle and a great litmus test for last year’s Blank Cup Champions. Newcomers to Avondale’s squad this year are Canterbury Rep Sam Purdon moving from Templeton, import Leith Campion from Riversdale and Rodney van Steenis from Pegasus. The experience of Richard Sinclair, Hayden Burns and Nathan Andrews will also play a big role in Avondale’s season. Christchurch have had mixed fortunes in the past month losing Nic Kay to injury, while Marcel Boet and Tom Parker are currently back from University in America. John Rademakers has moved from Coringa and will add experience to the squad with Jason Sincock, while Jordan Bakermans and Canterbury Rep Mike Toeke will again be a force at the top of the order.
Last year’s semi-finalists Waitikiri take on Hororata in round one and will be eyeing a semi-final spot again this year after some great results last season. Their squad is stacked with experience with Canterbury Masters Reps Aaron Forsyth and Brett Turner. Chris Bond is also back for his eighteenth Woodward Cup season with Waitikiri and Kris O’Neill new to this year’s squad, has moved from Bottle Lake off the back of some fine form in last year’s competition. Hororata will have benefited from their debut season in the competition and are also fortunate to have the services of Dominic Brettkelly who is currently available, also as a result of the issues surrounding University golf in the United States and will lead off at the top of the order. A new addition to the squad is Anuresh Chandra, a past Fijian Eisenhower Cup Rep, who together with Canterbury Masters Rep Anton Fouchee and imports Michael Bailey from Clearwater and Ashburton’s Owen Miller will provide experience as the Canterbury Central club look to build on last year’s performance and cement their place in the competition.
Templeton will be looking to make amends from last year after narrowly missing a semi-final berth, and their clash with last year’s semi-finalists Harewood should be one of the matches of the round. Both teams will be keen to start on a high with Canterbury Rep Matt McLean heading Harewood’s line-up, together with imports Josh Smith from Pegasus and James Howard from Coringa, while the experience of Scott Manyweathers will again be crucial as they look to go one better this year. Templeton welcome back Mike Berry this season to their squad together with Nelson’s Josh Simpson as their import. Jordon Latter will also cement the top order with Tom and Rhys Wilson while newcomers Mac McCall and Lance Gahan will be keen to make the most of their opportunities.
Bottle Lake and Weedons will face-off in the final match of the round. The Bottle Lake squad is relatively unchanged, but importantly has the services of Canterbury Captain Andrew Green who has moved from Pegasus, and he will be formidable at the top of the order together with Kieran Sharvin and Lachie Mackay. The experience of both Aaron Neill and Jason Campbell will again play a vital role in in the middle order. The Weedons squad also has a settled look to it with a mix of youth and experience again this year. Canterbury Masters Rep Jonathan Stieller together with Forde Hanson, James Metzger, Bryden Grant, Austin Hamilton and Clearwater import William Bastings will look to give the team a great start, with the younger players drawing on the experience they have gained in the past few Woodward Cup seasons.
This year’s Woodward Cup will again highlight the depth of golf talent in Canterbury and undoubtedly provide some absorbing individual match ups as teams eye the silverware and a top four finish for Finals Day, this year to be held at Waitikiri Golf Club on 8 November.
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