The 2023 edition of the Men’s Interclub Finals Day took place on Sunday at Pegasus Golf Club in very hot spring conditions. With a total of 120 players across 16 teams and four different competitions all culminating together, it was always going to be a very busy semi-final morning plays before the eventual respective competition finalists were found.
As expected at this level, both semi-final matches were extremely tight with several matches going the distance. In the 1st vs 4th match-up Harewood put up a great fight trying to upset table topper Christchurch’s day, they did however fall just short with Shirley prevailing 5-3. Tom Lee playing at number one got his team on the board early winning 5/4 while James Howard likewise got Harewood underway winning 4/3 in the number 2 match. At the other end of the table, Alisdair Reid and Kerry Branson couldn’t be separated at the numbers 8’s while Jason Sincock produced a great comeback to win his last 4 holes to pip Harewood’s Scott Manyweathers 1Up. Josh Smith meanwhile was able to get an impressive 1Up win over previously undefeated Tim Leonard, however with wins to Reid and Lee Christchurch has enough to progress to the final.
The Clearwater vs Templeton match meanwhile was an even closer match-up, a repeat of the 2022 final. Unfortunately, from Clearwater’s perspective, the result was the same with Templeton narrowly getting up 4.5-3.5. Clearwater started well with number 1 Dominic Brettkelly winning comfortably 5/4 and at the other end of the order Will Bastings managed a 3/2 win over Tom Wilson. However, it was Templeton who was dominant in the middle of the order with David Zohrab winning 6/5, Ryan Bellamy winning 4/3, and Nick Franzmann 3/2. Clearwater’s Cooper Moore was able to add a win 2up over Dan Laughton but alongside the Jordon Latter, Michael Bailey half it wasn’t enough.
So, the finalists were found with defending champions Templeton looking to achieve a rare 3-peat while Christchurch in their 150th year were looking to wrestle back the title for the first time since 2019. Things started positively for Christchurch at the battle of the 8’s with Alisdair Reid being in control to eventually overcome Tom Wilson 5/3. In the same pairing, a tough battle between Jordon Latter and Mika MacDonald played out with the latter in control for large periods, however, it was the experienced Latter who fought back for a 2/1 victory to get Templeton on the board. In the next group, Jason Sincock continued his good day beating David Zohrab 2up while Templeton’s Ryan Bellamy was able to overcome Richard Reed 3/2 to make it 2 wins a piece. It was the next group however that saw Christchurch take advantage of the contest with the Canterbury representative Reid Hilton in his debut year for the club comfortably defeating James Standeven 6/5 alongside Tim Leonard's hard-fought 1up victory over Dan Laughton.
Those results meant that only 2 wins for Templeton from the final group would be enough to take the match to a play-off, with those contests going all the way to the 18th hole where a large and expectant crowd awaited. Templeton’s Mike Toeke started the hole 1up against opponent Peter Lee while Tom Lee and Nick Franzmann’s match was all square after Franzmann had fought back from previously trailing as much as 3 down. Toeke was able to hold firm to claim a half on the who and an overall 1 up victory, however Franzmann was unable to complete the comeback. After an out-of-bounds shot off the tee followed by a further out-of-bounds approach shot with Christchurch’s Tom Lee ball already on the green, Franzmann conceded the match. The outcome confirmed Christchurch’s 5-3 victory and 2023 Woodward Cup Champions.
In Blank Cup action, table toppers Russley took on 4th place Harewood in the first semi-final. As it proved Russley was too strong comfortably marching to a 6-2 victory. The biggest victories going to Russley’s Joe Piggott 5/4 at the number 7 spot and Hayden Bryden’s 5/3 victory at the number 2 spot. Harewood’s Cameron Powell got their biggest win 4/2 at the number 4 position with Liam Keegan getting the team’s only other victory 2up. In the other semi, Christchurch took on Clearwater in a match that finished 5-3 in Christchurch’s favour. A 4/3 win to David Grater got Christchurch off to a good start followed by Rhys Morris’s 3/2 victory over Clearwater’s Craig McMillan. James Cadenhead got a 2/1 victory at the number 2 spot for Clearwater but with halved matches at 7 & 8, it was not enough.
Therefore, Russley and Christchurch were left to play out the final, a fitting match for the teams that finished 1 and 2 respectively in the regular season. However, it was Russley who mimicked their morning's result progressing to a 6-2 victory. Ben Baker led from the top winning 6/5 over Grater while Kikukawa, Fitzsimmons, and Piggott all won 3/2 over their opponents. Ethan Lam and Stu Amos also won to give the team their 6-point total. Christchurch’s George Keable and Finlay Jones meanwhile were able to both contribute 3/2 wins for their side.
In Simon Cup action the first semifinal saw Templeton take on 4th seeds Bottle Lake Golf Club. Templeton after an impressive regular season and having convincingly beaten Bottle Lake in the regular season would have been favourites for this one, however, the men from Bottle Lake put up a big fight. A big 6/4 win to Bottle Lake’s Jonathan Drury got the team on the front foot before salver winner Mitchell Redmayne was able to contribute with a tight 2up victory over Paul Bailey. Templeton’s Kevin Hopkins and Ricky Buton both responded with 1up victories however with Bottle Lake’s Kieran Sharvin cruising to a 7/6 victory and Luke Millar winning 2/1, it meant Templeton would need 2 wins from their final group to force a play-off. Willy Morri and Scot Duggan duly delivered with 1up victories each and it was to the play-off we went. Scott Duggan and Kieran Sharvin both steeped up for Templeton and Bottle Lake respectively, but it was the Sharvin who following an impressive drive went on to birdie the hole and send Bottle Lake through. In the other semi-final, the action was a lot more one-sided as Russley met Christchurch. It was the Russley men that were dominant prevailing 7.5-.5 in the impressive performance. Alfie Bell with the biggest victory 5/4 with Ricky Wang also winning 4/2. Most of the other matches in fairness to Christchurch were decided on the 17th hole. Charles Whitwham getting the solitary half for Christchurch at the number one spot.
On to the Bottle Lake vs Russley final we went. Encouraged by their morning showing Bottle Lake again came out of the blocks quickly. Jonathan Drury backed up his morning performance with an equalling impressive display winning 6/5 over Russley’s Peter Jones. Phillip Walker was able to get one back for Russley winning 3/2, however, wins to Bottle Lake’s Zac Medland 3/2 and Tom Harding 4/3 had Bottle Lake in control 3-1. News then came in that Kieran Sharvin had also prevailed 4/3 at the number one spot meaning Russley needed to win all 3 final games to force a playoff. The penultimate group matches were in the balance with both matches sitting at all square as they started the last hole. It was however Russley's Riley Wang and Dereck Xu who both won the last to claw back the score to 4-3 with just the Mitchell Redmayne vs Ying He match to finish. After the pair halved the second to last hole, both players, watched on by their respective teammates teed off on par 5 number 5. After a bit of early trouble Bottle Lake’s Redmayne managed to make the green in 3 shots with an approximate 7-foot putt left. Ying He was a bit wayward with his second into the green and after a scramble was only able to make a 5 on the hole leaving Redmayne two shots to half and clench the Bottle Lake win. He only needed one shot however making the putt to win 1up and give Bottle Lake the 5-3 victory.
After being played for the majority of the season as Simon Division 2, this competition was renamed on the day the Thompson/MacDonald trophy in honour of newly crowned Canterbury Golf Life Members John Thompson and Peter MacDonald, who as ever were both officiating on the day. In the 6-man team event, Avondale took on Rawhiti in the first semi-final and it was the Rawhiti team that got the job done by a margin of 4-2. Tiaki Davis and Nathan Andrews getting the equal best victories 6/5. In the other contest, Templeton took on Weedons in what was a very dominant display for the Central region based club. Weedons getting the win 6-0 with Cameron Coombes winning comfortably 6/5 at the top followed by teammate Anuresh Chandra 5/3. Andrew Wylie also won impressively 7/6 at the number 6 position.
With Weedons getting the regular season win, Rawhiti would have been keen to reverse that result in the final, however, it wasn’t to be with Weedons winning narrowly 3.5-2.5. Cameron Coombes again getting a strong win 4/3 which was complemented by Reg Wentworth’s 2/1 win and Nick Tait’s 1up. Rawhiti’s Nathan Andrews also produced another impressive showing winning 6/5 but with only teammate Dan Matthews getting another win it wasn’t quite enough.