A stellar performance by the Canterbury Men's Team has seen them lift the trophy at the New Zealand Men's Interprovincial played at Whitford Park Golf Club this week.
The Canterbury Men's team are pictured back row from left, Mike Taylor (Manager), Zach May, Kazuma Kobori, Reid Hilton, Kerry Chuck (Selector). Front row from left Andrew Green, Mike Toeke, Matt McLean.
Canterbury last won the title in 2000 with the team of Eddie Lee, Jay Davies, Andrew Hobbs, Tim Evett, Isaac Randall and Nigel Davis.
"It's so difficult when you have so many teams that can win the event". Said Andrew Hobbs, the winning Canterbury Captain from 2000. "This week has brought back so many memories. I've followed the event all week and have been in touch with the team from 2000. You take a huge amount of pride to represent your province, you don't get that opportunity very often in a sport that is quite individual. It's so special to be part of a team".
Mike Toeke captained the team this week in his third time representing the province at the event after getting a taste for the level of competition in 2014 when he went as Assistant Manager.
"I thought getting to play the weekend was an accomplishment. Our first round loss to Manawatu-Wanganui was the wake up call we needed".
"I told the lads, we came up here to do a job. If you leave the course and you've given it 100% that's all you can do"
The team executed the plan and gained valuable points and games throughout the week which included 5-0 wins over Aorangi and Tasman to elevate their position on the table.
"I knew we were onto something special when we won against an unbeaten Taranaki side, then on Friday when we beat Otago, who has been dominant in recent years, and Northland the 2018 winners".
"Everything fell into place and everyone played their part."
The Canterbury team came out firing in the semi-final against Hawkes Bay to keep the dream alive.
The final against North Harbour couldn't have been tighter, all five matches were all square through the first 5 holes with Canterbury pushing slightly in front through 9. Matches continued to seesaw throughout the back 9 holes.
Toeke and Jason Gulasekharam went to the 18th all square, but an out of bounds tee shot on 18 would prove costly for Harbour, with Canterbury’s team captain Toeke winning the first Canterbury point.
Harbour responded with wins to Jesper Bengtsson and Jerry Ren against Reid Hilton and Zach May respectively in closely fought battles.
Matt McLean locked the scoreline up two all after beating Kit Bittle 2/1 with attention all falling on the number one players.
James Hydes had been in control most of the afternoon but Kobori started to mount a come-back winning the 14th, 16th and 17th holes to turn a two hole deficit into a one hole lead standing on the 18th tee.
With Hydes having to make an aggressive play on 18 to extend the match his approach shot was wide leaving himself with having to chip in to force a play-off.
The Canterbury Men's Team displayed nerves of steel through the week closing out tight matches down the home straight and the final against North Harbour was a further display of this.
"We appreciated all the support throughout the week, it was great to have some of the player's families here as well as Kerry Chuck (Canterbury Men's Selector) and Jake Roberts. We knew everyone back in Canterbury was behind us and the boys appreciated that".
“This one is for the province and the people back home in Canterbury" said Toeke.
"The team have a special bond and will remember this moment for the rest of our lives, it's surreal".
With seven wins from eight starts and his only loss coming the semi-final win against Hawkes Bay, Kazuma Kobori was named player of the tournament.
Kobori thrived on the pressure of being number one and played a valuable role in the team.
“I knew my game was in a great position to make birdies so I wasn’t exactly nervous, I was just happy to get the job done.”
After an exciting week of action attention now turns to the Akarana Golf Club with the New Zealand Women’s Interprovincial starting there on Tuesday.
North Harbour 4 Taranaki 1 James Hydes def Sam Jones 5/3, Kit Bittle def Ethan Jones 5/3, Jesper Bengtsson def Joseph Doyle 2/1, Jerry Ren lost to Chris Charlton 3/2, Jason Gulasekharam def Caleb Symes 3/2
Canterbury 3 Hawkes Bay 2 Kazuma Kobori lost to Mako Thompson 1up, Matt McLean lost to Russell Mitchell 1up, Reid Hilton def Tyson Tawera 5/4, Zach May def Stu Duff 4/3, Mike Toeke def Zach Swanwick 2/1
Canterbury 3 North Harbour 2 Kazuma Kobori def James Hydes 1up, Matt McLean def Kit Bittle 2/1, Jesper Bengtsson def Reid Hilton 4/3, Zach May lost to Jerry Ren 2/1, Mike Toeke def Jason Gulasekharam 1up.