The 2019 Golf Warehouse Canterbury Matchplay was held over Labour Weekend at Russley Golf Club with 36 hole qualifying on Saturday leading into the matchplay on Sunday and Monday. Weather conditions were reasonably kind over the three days with fine but blustery nor-west conditions challenging players at times, particularly the men who found the black tees at Russley a stern test.
Templeton's Ryan Bellamy and Harewood's Scott Manyweathers were the top qualiiers in the men's section and won comfortably through to the quarter finals on Sunday afternoon. However Bellamy ran into a road block in the form of Jacob Roberts who was in inspired form on his home course. Bellamy lost to Roberts on the 20th hole, with Roberts going on to beat Zach May in the semi-final 1up and book a place in the final. Manyweathers had a tough quarter-final battle against Canterbury team-mate Sam Purdon before prevailing on the 20th hole, but then found Hayato Miya too strong in the semi losing 4/3.
The Russley final between Roberts and Miya was a close and at times tense affair. Miya had eeked out a 1up lead after nine holes, and extended that to 2up through 15 holes. Then it all began to unravel for Miya as Roberts put the pressure on winning holes 16 and 17. Going down the 18th all square both players had a birdie to win the championship. Miya putted first from a 15 foot side hill lie but could not convert. Roberts had played a superb pitch that nearly went straight in the hole but he was left with a six foot down-hiller that just slid by. On to the 19th and both players were on the front edge for two. Miya lagged his putt from 30 feet up to the hole for a gimmee, but Roberts left his approach putt three foot short and missed the next putt for Miya to win the championship.
(Photo:Jake Roberts attempts birdie on the 18th hole to win the championship, while Hayato Miya looks on.)
In the women's championship Amy Weng, Hillary O'Connor, and Maddie May were the top qualifiers, and all won through to the semi-finals along with Jasmine Clancy. Amy Weng was too strong for Jasmine Clancy winning 3/1, with most interest focussed on Canterbury team-mates Hillary O'Connor and Maddie May in the other semi-final. In a very close contest May went into hole nine with a 1up lead, and when O'Connor nearly holed in one on the par 3 9th it looked like the match would be all square on the turn. May was safely on and lagged up for a gimmee par. O'Connor had five feet downhill for a birdie but gunned it three feet past and unfortunately missed the return putt to lose the hole and hand May a 2up lead. To her credit O'Connor fought back and by the 18th hole had got the match back to all square. On the 19th O'Connor got out of position off the tee, and was unable to make her par putt giving the match to May. In the final Maddie May was quick out of the gates and built a 4up lead early on against Amy Weng. She maintained that lead through the turn and got to 5up after 13 holes before prevailing 5/4.
The Men's Masters grade was keenly contested with good depth in the field of 16 players. Russley's Andrew Dufton qualified top seed and won through to the quarter-final where he played Brett Turner. In a close match Turner prevailed 3/1 setting up a semi-final against Canterbury team-mate Anton Fouchee. On the other side of the draw the surprise package was Templeton's Paul Burke who took the scalps of Paul Bailey and Jonathan Stieller on the way to the semis. He would meet Aorangi stalwart Robbie Bell who was just too consistent for Steve Bell and Brent Mackay. The semi-final between Burke and Bell was close with Burke unable to convert good play from tee to green, while Bell showed his superb short game that has bought him provincial and national success. The match went to the 18th, with Bell prevailing 2up. In the other semi Turner led most of the way courtesy of some good play on his part and a cold putter from Fouchee. Near the end of the match Fouchee had two chances to get back into the match but missed two short putts to lose 4/3. The final between Turner and Bell was close all the way. Bell had a 1up lead after nine holes, but the match ebbed and flowed with neither player able to get out more than a one hole lead. Turner got to 1up through 16 holes and was able to hold that lead going into 18 where par was enough for the 1up victory.
In the Grade 2 Men's it was the third and fourth qualifiers that met in the final - Sam Sandford and Finlay Jones. They had both beaten higher seeded opponents in the semis.The match was all square through nine holes, but Jones won holes 10, 11, and 14 to go 3up and run out the eventual winner 4/3.
The Men's U19 Grade saw the top two qualifers Seb May and Yuki Miya meet in the final. Seb had beaten Cooper Moore in the semi 2/1 which included a superb eagle on the 18th hole - their 9th hole. May was 4up then but Cooper fought back to extend the match to the 17th. Miya was too strong for Edward Dickinson winning 6/5 in the other semi. In the final Seb May was too strong. He was 3up after nine holes, and won hole 10 to go 4up. The players halved through to the 14th hole before May prevailed 4/3.
Thanks must go to Russley Golf Club for hosting the tournament, particularly their green-keeping, pro shop, and catering staff; and to the members who were displaced. Golf Warehouse have sponsored the championship for a number of years and we thank Ritchie Bath and his team for their support.
Major changes are afoot for the tournament to encourage more participants. Being considered is a move to two days with eight player brackets, addition of a Seniors Grade for over 55's, and a change of date to late March/early April.
Click here to view the Canterbury Matchplay results.