‘Old fella’ savours Otago matchplay win

Phil Bungard plays out of a bunker on the fourth hole during the Otago matchplay championship at...
Phil Bungard plays out of a bunker on the fourth hole during the Otago matchplay championship at Balmacewen yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Good things come to those who wait — and Phil Bungard has had to wait longer than most.

Bungard (Chisholm Links) played in the Otago matchplay championship for the first time as a 14-year-old St Kevin’s College pupil in 1999, but had never made the top four before this year.

Now, he can celebrate as the event’s champion, after beating Ryan Bellamy (St Clair) 2-up in the final at the Otago Golf Club yesterday.

"That’s a great feeling," Bungard (36) said after he sealed victory on the final hole.

"Some of these young guys are calling me the old fella now, because I’ve been coming here for a while.

"I just played really solid golf over the past couple of days, and it’s nice to play so well under pressure."

Bungard had to do it the hard way, qualifying 15th into the 16-man knockout rounds.

He had a tight tussle with Will Young (Otago) in the semifinal yesterday, triumphing 1-up.

Bungard is far from the longest hitter in the region so he knew he would have to lean hard on his irons and putter.

"It’s all about the short game for me. I was really pleased with my putting over the weekend."

There was a club link in the final, as Bellamy is a dual member at St Clair and Templeton, where Bungard formerly worked on the grounds staff.

Bellamy, the lowest qualifier, had shocked defending champion Mathew Tautari (Invercargill) 1-up in the other semifinal.

Tautari held what seemed likely to be an insurmountable 4-up advantage after the front nine but could only watch as Bellamy came roaring home.

Will McLauchlan (Futures Dunedin) beat Ben Patston (Otago) 6 and 4 in the division two final.

Brandon Hodgson (2-up over Mackenzie Gibson in division one plate), Lewis Harper (2 and 1 over Ben Worker in division two plate), Stacey Atkinson (2 and 1 over Joel Kenton in division three plate) and Ricky Kang (5 and 4 over Steve Horn in senior championship) were the other winners.


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