Banks putting different sport first

The leading golfers in the South will be joined by an intriguing code-hopper at the Dunedin strokeplay this weekend.

St Clair will again host the two-round tournament, which was reborn in 2022 as a stand-alone event after having been folded into the South Island strokeplay for a decade.

A field of 100 players will contest four divisions over 36 holes.

Among the usual contenders is a name more familiar with a much larger ball.

Former Highlanders and Southland rugby playmaker Marty Banks is teeing it up alongside the cream of southern golf.

Banks was a "pretty handy" golfer who played off about a seven handicap, St Clair professional Patrick Moore said.

Among the leading contenders for the men’s title will be Southland veteran Matt Tautari, who last won the Dunedin strokeplay in 2018.

Otago No 1 Will McLauchlan and experienced provincial team-mate Callum Judkins will be in the mix, while 1996 champion Tony Giles and rising Otago rookies Kai Koni and Ricky Kang represent opposite ends of the experience spectrum.

Fancying their chances on home turf might be Jacob Bellamy and Harrison Duckett, the St Clair professional fresh off dominating the Otago strokeplay.

Phil Bungard, the back-to-back defending champion, has not entered the tournament, while 2019 and 2020 winner Kazuma Kobori is now making waves in his fledgling professional career.

In the absence of leading Otago players Sumin Kang and Yoonae Jeong, Abigael Crawford shapes as the favourite in the women’s field.