Golf: Top-class field to contest champs

Victor Janin
Victor Janin
Victor Janin (Rotorua) has returned to Dunedin where, on his last visit, he beat Junior Tahana on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off to win the men's interprovincial title for Bay of Plenty at Balmacewen in December.

Playing off a handicap index of -2.7, Janin is just one of 40 golfers on a handicap better than scratch who will tee off in the South Island championships at St Clair this morning.

In one of the best fields assembled in Dunedin, 34 men and six women will play off a negative index, a high proportion of the 116-strong field.

Nick Voke (Manukau), on -4.1, is the low marker in the men's field, while In Sun Choi, on -6.4, and Da Som Park (both Coringa), on -5.3, head the women's line-up.

The form players in the men's event are Fraser MacLachlan (Royal Wellington) and Ryan Chisnall (Greenacres, Nelson), who both featured in the Grant Clements Memorial event at Mt Maunganui last weekend.

MacLachlan finished one shot behind winner Compton Pikari, and Chisnall was in a tie for third.

Brent McEwan should thrive playing on his home course and is third on handicap rankings behind Voke and Jordan Bakermans (Christchurch). But he will face stiff opposition from Peter Lee (Rotorua), Cameron Jones (Muriwai) as well as any

of the other sub-par golfers who strike form.

Other Otago sub-par ranked players to start are Samson Kim (Queenstown), Michael Smith (Otago), Brandon Hodgson (Otago), Jamie Anstiss (Queenstown) and Mitch Bosley (Wanaka), while Mark Collie (Chisholm Park) will play off scratch.

The Southland brigade has taken more than its fair share of Otago titles back home in recent years and will be targeting the Dunedin championship, which will be played in conjunction with the South Island event.

Southlanders Jeremy Hall, Liam Balneaves and Matt Tautari are well down the handicap list but this is more a reflection on the courses and conditions they regularly play, rather than their true ability.

St Clair has been a happy hunting ground for Tautari and, as the holder of the Dunedin title, he must be rated this weekend.

Choi and Park, perhaps with one eye on Lydia Ko as she chases more silverware across the Tasman, are likely to dominate the race for the women's title.