New Zealand and Wellington rep Kerry Mountcastle staged a spectacular back nine comeback to beat Canterbury's Kazuma Kobori by one shot for the Men's Championship at the 2021 Smiths City Canterbury Strokeplay held at Clearwater this weekend.
Kobori led by a shot starting the final round and by the 12th hole had built that lead up to three shots courtesy of a short game masterclass - sinking many length putts, and a chip-in on 12. Mountcastle was striking the ball well but couldn't capitalise missing several makeable birdie putts through to hole 14. On this tricky par 5 he hit an iron off the tee then a spectacular 3 wood onto the green and 15 foot from the flag. Mountcastle actually thought the shot had gone into the hazard and was relieved to see it had found the green. He finally made a putt for eagle and the "two horse" race was now tied. However there was more drama to come. Mountcastle hit it in the hazard on 15 and bogeyed but Kobori also bogeyed from the middle of the fairway after misjudging the tail wind. Then on 16 hitting into the wind Kobori's tee shot found the water and he made double bogey. Mountcastle also missed the green and made bogey but gained a shot. On 17 Mountcastle again hit it left way in the hazard. The ball was found in the trees, he hit it out and then onto the green and made a great bogey. Meanwhile Kobori could only manage bogey after finding the fairway bunker. Both players played solid down the 18th and they both made 5 foot putts for par giving the victory to Mountcastle by one. 14 year old Aucklander Joshua Bai was the spectator in the group. He played some solid golf but couldn't make inroads into the deficit he faced at the start of the day. He finished five shots back from Kobori in third place. No other challenges eventuated from further down the pack on a day of trying conditions on a very testing layout.
Auckland's Aileen Du won the Women's Championship by eight shots. She started the day with a six shot lead over Canterbury's Maddie May and shot an even par 72 to extend the winning margin over May who shot 74. Nelson's Lizzie Neale was third on a countback. May had a significant length advantage off the tee but other parts of her game let her down. Meanwhile Du was consistent and steady in the tough conditions.
Waitikiri's Brett Turner beat his Canterbury team-mate Jonathan Stieller to claim the Men's Masters Championship by one shot. Turner started with a three shot lead and held on in tough conditions. Bottle Lake's Kieran Sharvin was third.
Invercargill's Olivia Frost won the Women's Masters Championship. Her second round 76 set up the win by 11 shots over defending champion Kim Moggach and Clearwater's Rachel Eder who tied.
Templeton's Sam McGill won the Men's Net, Weedon's Deanna Matthews the Women's Net, and Christchurch's Gary Gillard the Men's Masters Net.
A huge thanks to sponsors Smiths City who provided Queen Sized Sleepyhead Beds to the champions. Also to the Clearwater Golf Club. The players were privileged to play an international standard layout in superb condition. For many, it was a reality check and insight into what it takes to play a course at that level.