The 2022 Men’s NZ Interprovincial tournament took place last week with the event coinciding with the Women’s Interprovincial for the first time. The two venues used throughout the week were Omanu Golf Club in Mount Manganui and Tauranga Golf Club, both courses in decent condition with the men playing all but one day at Omanu.
The men’s team featured several familiar faces with a couple of new additions to the event too. NZ representative Kazuma Kobori led the team at number 1 with in form Dominic Brettkelly, who was the team's reserve last year being selected at number 2. Experienced Reid Hilton, captaining the team this year played in the number 3 position. Sam McGill having had a great year was rewarded with his selection in the number 4 position in what was his first event at this level with the vastly experienced Andrew Green securing the number 5 position. In the reserve spot young Canterbury Junior Golfer of the Year Yuki Miya was selected to attend his first NZ Interprovincial event at just 16 years of age. Also in the touring group was promising youngster Cooper Moore who was selected to attend the event by the selectors to aid his continued experience and development having featured for the men’s team in their earlier season representative squads.
On day 1 the men faced last year’s finalists Hawkes Bay in what was a very tight affair. With the team trailing 4-1 at the turn the men rallied to secure a 3-2 victory with Kobori and Brettkelly winning 1Up and captain Hilton winning 3/2. The team then had their BYE that afternoon. On day 2 the men started out against South Island Interprovincial runners-up Southland Golf. Unfortunately, the men couldn’t get themselves going in that one and eventually fell 2-3 with both McGill and Brettkelly coming close but losing out 1D in the telling match-up’s in that contest.
Following that round 3 disappointment a big round 4 performance was required vs Tasman, and the boys delivered coming through with 5-0 clean sweep victory. Sam McGill recorded his NZ Interprovincial victory in this match winning 1Up as well as reserve Yuki Miya getting his first match at this level coming in to mark his debut with a win 4/3.
Moving on to day 3 and the men came up against another side jostling for a play-off spot in a difficult division in Waikato. Unfortunately, the men couldn’t find the same form from the round before and were beaten 1-4 with the solitary points coming from halves from Brettkelly and Green. Kobori lost his perfect record in this tie going down 1D the third match of the fixture being settled on the 18th. With that loss the men were in a precarious position with their 2-win, 2-loss record meaning a huge day 4 was required to give themselves a chance to progress to the semi-finals. Ahead of them were defending champions Taranaki and tournament favourites Auckland.
For the Taranaki match Yuki Miya was brought back into the lineup and repaid the faith winning his match 3/2. This positive trend continued with Green, Hilton and Brettkelly also getting the win and Kobori picking up a half against fellow NZ representative Sam Jones leading to a convincing 4.5-.5 victory for the Cantabs. This dominant display set up a grandstand finish with all of Hawkes Bay, Waikato and Canterbury all vying for the final semi-final spot with Auckland, our final-round opponents having secured their top of the division finish with their perfect 5 from 5 record.
Going into the round there were all sorts of calculations and scenarios that could have played out but it was known that Canterbury required a win, and they delivered beating Auckland 3-2 to inflict the first defeat of the competition for the team from the city of sails. With Waikato having defeated Southland 3.5-1.5 Canterbury required at least 3.5 wins having lost to Waikato in pool play and knowing if they finished even it would be the moo-loo men that progressed. The outcome was in the balance all the way until the 18th between Kobori and Auckland’s Joshua Bai. In a cruel turn of events, with Kazuma positioned just 2-feet away, Bai had an approach shot 20m of the green which he needed to get close in order to half the hole, with Canterbury needing to win the hole. Bai proceeded to thin his chip but in a bitter moment his ball rolling at pace hit the pin stopping 6 inches from the hole to secure his 1Up victory. Canterbury finished with 4 wins from 6 and 18.5 wins, the exact same record as Waikato who then progressed. A bitter end to a massive final-day effort from the players in a moment that showed the fine margins of our game.
Reid Hilton had a great week as captain recording 5 wins and just one defeat while Dominic Brettkelly secured 4 wins alongside his half and one defeat. Kobori also recorded 3 wins at number 1 and Yuki Miya recorded 3 wins from his 3 matches coming into the team to great effect.
Tournament hosts Bay of Plenty went on to win the event, its first victory in a decade. The full tournament results can be viewed – HERE.