Golf: Otago fights well to score two wins

Otago No 1 Brent McEwan pitches to the 17th green during the opening round of the New Zealand interprovincial golf tournament at Balmacewen yesterday. McEwan won both his matches yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Otago No 1 Brent McEwan pitches to the 17th green during the opening round of the New Zealand interprovincial golf tournament at Balmacewen yesterday. McEwan won both his matches yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Home team Otago made a strong start at the interprovincial championships at the Otago Golf Club yesterday but has some big mountains to climb today.

Otago swept Poverty Bay 5-0 in the morning and then came home strongly in the afternoon to beat North Harbour 3-2, after it looked as though the visiting side might prevail.

Defending champion Southland and Bay of Plenty also made strong starts in their one round as did Auckland, while Canterbury and Tasman shared the spoils in their match in the morning.

Otago No 2 Michael Smith though came through when it mattered against North Harbour, recovering well from a poor start.

He was down three in as many holes but pulled himself together to win with two holes to spare.

Smith admitted after his win yesterday afternoon he just played one hole at a time, after going down early, and tried to switch the pressure to his opponent Kevin Budden.

''The same thing happened this morning and I managed to come through to win eight of the next 10 holes. This afternoon Mark [caddie Mark Collie] was brilliant.

''He just told me to win one hole and then put the pressure back on him. That makes me hit first and if you can put a big drive down the middle then that puts the pressure back on him."

Smith was one down by the 12th hole but then birdied the next four holes to which Budden had no reply.

''To birdie 14 and 15 was great as they are two of the hardest holes on the course."

Smith has aspirations of going professional and showed the right temperament to get ahead.

Most impressive for Otago was No 1 Brent McEwan who won both his matches by the scoreline of 4 and 3 and looked composed in everything he did.

He drove long and straight and holed some clutch putts.

New boy Samson Kim, playing at No 3, won both his matches, snatching victory from defeat in the morning.

Kim was two down with four holes to play in the morning but won the next three holes and halved the last to win.

In the afternoon he pulled away in the middle section of his round to have a convincing 5 and 4 victory.

The weather was relatively calm yesterday morning but the wind picked up in the afternoon making conditions tricky.

The only other side to bag two victories yesterday was Waikato, although six teams, including all four semifinalists from last year, enjoyed a bye yesterday.

Southland, which won the title for the first time last year, started well in the afternoon, beating Aorangi 5-0.

Liam Balneaves won 5 and 4 at No 3 and looms as a key man for Southland.

Bay of Plenty beat Poverty Bay 4-1, while Auckland was victorious over Hawkes Bay by the same score.