Golf: Semifinal spots still far from decided

Bay of Plenty No 1 Zoe Brake tees off on the first hole during theSt Clair course yesterday. sixth round of the New Zealand women's interprovincial tournament at the St Clair course yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Bay of Plenty No 1 Zoe Brake tees off on the first hole during theSt Clair course yesterday. sixth round of the New Zealand women's interprovincial tournament at the St Clair course yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
With several teams still in contention in each pool, the final pool round of the women's interprovincial tournament looks set to provide the most excitement of the week.

An unbeaten Auckland quintet leads pool one with five points and 18.5 matches followed by Waikato with four wins and 17 games.

Third-placed Canterbury, on four points and 14.5 games, is the only South Island team with a chance of making the semifinals tomorrow morning.

To ensure qualification for the playoffs, Waikato must beat Auckland this morning in the final round or Canterbury could snatch the second semifinal spot.

Despite being out of the reckoning on one point and 11 games, Otago will play a part in the result when the home team has a chance to upset Canterbury this morning.

There is a logjam in pool two with Bay of Plenty, North Harbour and Wellington all on four points.

North Harbour has a slender advantage with 16.5 games ahead of Wellington on 16 games while Bay of Plenty has 15 games.

Wellington will play Southland this morning which will not be a pushover as the southern team is the only side to post a 5-0 win during the week.

The fate of Bay of Plenty and North Harbour is in their own hands as they meet in what amounts to a quarterfinal this morning.

Manawatu-Wanganui is in fourth place with three points and an impressive 17-game tally but will need Wellington to lose to have any chance of playing on.

Pool two closed up when the Bay quintet beat Wellington 3-2 yesterday morning.

In the other pool, Otago nearly pulled off an upset in a close contest with Auckland before eventually going down by a single match.

Otago No 5 Susan Greig beat Larissa Eruera on the 17th green while Laura Hoskin won the final hole to beat Auckland No 1 Wenyung Keh 2 up.

Otago No 2 Jo Hicks-Beach looked set to put the icing on the cake with a good front nine but the deciding match got away on her on the back nine and she lost on the 17th green.

In the afternoon, Otago went down to a determined Waikato team with Susan Greig the only winner to give her four wins from five outings.

A key match in pool two was between Wellington and North Harbour with the capital city team recovering from the morning loss to win 3 to 2.

Lydia Ko is a confirmed starter for the New Zealand Women's Open in Christchurch in February, APNZ reported yesterday.

The world No 1 amateur, who this year became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA Tour and the first Kiwi to win on that tour, will look to become the first home champion of the event at the Clearwater Golf Club.

Ko, who made her debut at the New Zealand Women's Open as a 12-year-old in 2010 at Pegasus, recently played the course for the first time in the pro-am of the NZ Open and reeled off eight birdies and a bogey for a 7-under-par 65.

''It was from the ladies' yellow tees so it was playing much easier,'' the 15-year-old from Gulf Harbour said.

''I like the course. It will be pretty challenging on the back nine when the wind gets up because there is a lot of water. I am looking forward to playing here in the New Zealand Women's Open. I have played well at Pegasus in the past and I think Clearwater will be a great host for the event.''

Ko, who arrived at the 2012 event on the back of her record-breaking win at the New South Wales Open, attracted thousands of spectators and she is hoping the galleries come out at Clearwater.

The national championship has attracted all four champions of the event so far in Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (2009), England's Laura Davies (2010) and Australians Kristie Smith (2011) and Lindsey Wright (2012).

Davies has won 82 professional titles worldwide, with 20 victories on the LPGA. The 49-year-old from England, who is the first non-American to finish at the top of the LPGA money list, has won the LET Order of Merit a record seven times and is a four-time major champion.

The event, which will be staged on February 8-11, holds a special place in the New Zealand sporting landscape as, with a purse of $315,000, it is the most lucrative women's sporting event in the country.

 


Standings
after six rounds

• Pool one: Auckland 5 points, 18 games; Waikato 4, 17; Canterbury 4, 14; Taranaki 2, 12; Hawkes Bay 2, 10; Otago 1, 11; Aorangi 0, 7.

• Pool two: North Harbour 4, 16; Wellington 4, 16; Bay of Plenty 4, 15; Manawatu-Wanganui 3, 17; Southland 2, 13; Northland 1, 8; Tasman 0, 4.



Today's draw
For final pool games this morning

• Otago v Canterbury
• Hawkes Bay v Taranaki
• Auckland v Waikato
• Southland v Wellington
• Manawatu-Wanganui v Northland
• North Harbour v Bay of Plenty