Depth key for Otago in South Is interprovincial

Phil Bungard
Phil Bungard
Otago will lean on its excellent depth when it attempts to regain the South Island men’s interprovincial title at the Ashburton club this weekend.

The annual tournament will feature eight-man teams from five regions in the matchplay format.

Otago won it in 2019 but was back in the pack last year as Southland beat Canterbury in the key clash.

Canterbury then went on to win the New Zealand interprovincial title, reflecting the strength of amateur golf in the South Island.

Brandon Hodgson, Duncan Croudis, Callum Judkins, Phil Bungard and Ryan Bellamy return from last year’s Otago team.

They are joined by new No1 Tom Lee, the Otago Golf Club champion and younger brother of former Rotorua professional Peter Lee, Bellamy’s brother, Jacob, and Will Young, who was a reserve last year.

Hodgson, Croudis and Ryan Bellamy are survivors from the Otago teams that won at Russley in 2014 and at Waitikiri in 2019.

Bungard, the Golf Otago development officer and fresh off his victory in the Otago matchplay championship, feels the team is strong from top to bottom.

‘‘There’s not really one outstanding player,’’ Bungard said.

‘‘We all beat each other up. Anyone can play in any position in this team.’’

Lee will be an intriguing figure on debut.

The medical student is a powerful striker of the ball and also has a calmness about him on the course.

Hodgson and Croudis bring plenty of experience.

The Otago men will be eager to perform for the team but will also focus on individual performances before the naming of a five-man team for the New Zealand interprovincial.

At the Timaru Golf Club, the Otago women will face the same teams in the same format.

Otago is led by schoolgirl stars Sumin Kang (No1) and Yoonae Jeong (No2).

Kang’s talent has already shone through this year, winning the South Island under-16 title at Balmacewen, and finishing two strokes clear of the under-19 winner.

The Wakatipu junior and fellow youngster Jeong are joined by Libby Harper on debut, following in the footsteps of mother Melanie, a former Otago representative.

Former Aorangi representative Kathryn Baker and Tracey Storer add their experience to the squad, which will again face the formidable challenge of taking down a stacked Canterbury team.


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