After the weather-enforced interruption back in early March, the 2023 Canterbury Match Play was completed last weekend. Played at Waitikiri Golf Club the opening 3 rounds of the Match Play were able to be completed on the 4th and 5th of March before weather conditions suspended play leaving all finals matches to be played. With Waitikiri’s scheduled greens coring taking place from the 6th of March and one of the Men’s finalists being based in Auckland this added a few more challenges to rescheduling the remaining fixtures however these were eventually confirmed and played.
The Men’s category again featured several high-quality players from throughout Canterbury and beyond all looking to capture the “Challenge Cup”, first presented in 1906. The round of 16 draw threw up some interesting first-round matches with last year's finalist Reid Hilton playing Aucklander Robby Turnbull, the latter prevailing in a tight affair 2/1. Canterbury Stroke Play champion Dominic Brettkelly was also defeated in round 1 by Sam Harris in a notable scalp with the majority of the other top seeds advancing. The quarter-finals saw Dean Harvey stop Harris’s run fighting back to advance 1Up while Cooper Moore accounted for Tim Graham to advance to the semis alongside defending champion Tom Lee and Robby Turnbull. The semi-finals were a tight affair with both matches in the balance when play was suspended. With both matches recommencing on Sunday they both went to the wire with Tom Lee and Robby Turnbull both advancing 1Up vs Dean Harvey and Cooper Moore respectively. In the final showdown, it was the Aucklander Turnbull who got off to a hot start birding 3 of the first 4 holes to steal a march on his opponent. Lee hung tough however and won holes 15 and 16, including a 114m hole out on the 16th to take the match to the 17th. Turnbull came up with a solid approach on the par 3 17th however to see out the match 3/1 and secure the title.
In the women’s division there was a good display of youthful golfers with a couple of more experienced players in the mix too. Catherine Palmer (nee Bell) came away with a big round of 16 victory over her opponent Eva Yin with Alisia Ren also advancing via a 4/3 victory over Zaria Bourne. That theme continued for Palmer and Ren as they advanced through their quarter-final rounds with Jessie Mercer also progressing with a 1Up victory over Lexi Thomson Hall and Junie Chang also advancing by the same margin over Vanessa Lim. The semifinals saw Alisia Ren matched up against Jessie Mercer and Catherine Palmer versing Junie Chang. The conditions for both matches were extremely testing with the strong rain and course conditions providing a significant challenge. Both matches did however come to a conclusion with Ren advancing 8/6 and Palmer also winning 7/6 to set up the final showdown. With play suspended, that match took place on the 25th of March and was a very tight affair going all the way to the 18th. Both players held slim leads throughout with Ren holding the upper hand 1Up after the 16th hole. It was Palmer that fought back however winning 17th to set up a grandstand finish with Palmer eventually taking out the hole and title 1Up.
In the Men’s Masters category the initial qualifying round resulted in the 2 divisions to decide the eventual champion. Paul Fitzsimmons had the best of the qualifying and was accordingly matched up against Brent Mackey in the quarterfinals, a match he went on to win 2/1. One of the Canterbury favourites Woo Bong Kim could only manage a 7th place finish but was enough to secure his progression to the Championship division quarter-finals where he met fellow club member Simon Marshall. Kim going on to win that one 7/6. Michael Bailey and Ian MacDonald were the other players to progress to the semifinals overcoming James Howard and John Rademakers respectively. The semis saw Kim matched up against MacDonald and Bailey vs Fitzsimmons. Woo Bong was able to advantage of his home course knowledge to win that match 4/3 with Michael Bailey outlasting his opponent in the deteriorating conditions progressing 3/2. With play suspended the final again took place on the 25th of March with Bailey and Kim meeting to settle the title. However, it was the latter who prevailed with Woo Bong Kim taking out the match 2/1 in a tight affair. Kieran Sharvin managed to win on the 19th vs Nathan Moore to secure the Master's Division 2 prize.
The Boy’s U19 division likewise started with a qualifying round leaving a Championship division and Division 2. Etienne Collier prevailed as the top qualifier being matched up against Maadi Kiri Kiri in the quarter-finals where he won convincingly. Nelson-based Caleb Minson also won his quarter-final match up vs James Walker 5/4 with Jono Fry and Marshall Johnstone also progressing. The semi-finals saw Minson and Fry do battle as well as Collier and Johnston in the testing rain conditions. The top qualifier Collier was able to do the job 4/3 with Jono Fry the 7th placed qualifier prevailing over Minson 2Up. The final again took place on the 25th of March with Collier looking to carry on his momentum from a few weeks prior, and it was the Avondale junior who took out the match defeating Fry 2/1 to claim his first Canterbury Match Play u19 title. Uny Shao went on to win the Division 2 prize defeating Louis Edwards.
The final division was the Men’s Seniors with just a small field competing. Following the qualifying round, newcomer Dion Ratahi progressed as the top seed facing up against David Storey in the semifinals where he won 2/1. The other semifinal saw defending champion Marty Holman match up against Lin Wang, the former progressing via a play-off hole in a very tight contest. The final match was played over the weekend with Holman continuing his dominance in the division prevailing 3/2.
See the full results for the event – HERE.