Island Park secures its first pennant

Island Park’s Michael Smith escapes the greenside bunker on the third hole at Chisholm Links on...
Island Park’s Michael Smith escapes the greenside bunker on the third hole at Chisholm Links on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
It was tight ... nail-biting ... dramatic — every adjective could be used to describe the senior A pennant final between the Otago Bombers and Island Park at Chisholm Links on Saturday.

Island Park made history, beating the defending champion 3.5-2.5.

In calm conditions the fixture was tight with many twists before the final putts dropped.

Island Park was searching for its first senior A pennant flag and began well with just about every match in its favour through the first six holes.

But Bombers No3 Duncan Croudis drew first blood after being forced to grind back into the match against Michael Smith.

Smith started like a rocket with early birdies to go 2-up through six holes but a string of bogeys let Croudis back into the match. He took full advantage and steamrolled home emphatically with a 5 and 4 victory.

Balmacewen greenkeeper Tyrone Ratahi playing at No1 after only dropping one game all season inflicted more misery on Park’s Matt Tautari as Tautari’s form begun to dip at the business end of the season.

After a tight affair early Ratahi, whose father made a surprise day trip from Christchurch, pulled away from Tautari, eventually winning 5 and 4, giving the Bombers two crucial games.

But with the rest of the games either level or in Park’s favour the attention turned to the fourth-seeded players where Mike Wray was fancied over Jason Hughes.

Wray, who is a proven performer around the Links, was in control throughout holding his nerve down the back stretch winning on the 16th green to earn Park’s first win.

The Park tail of Phil Bungard and Michael Minty fought hard against the more fancied Nick Borren and Brandon Hodgson.

Minty played steady and turned 3 up.

Hodgson snared two holes back but a birdie at 16 put Minty in the box seat sealing Park’s second game on the 17th green, levelling the fixture at 2-2.

After being 3 up early, Bungard found himself in a dogfight and it was all square on the 18th tee. Both players left themselves a couple of tense 2m putts. Bungard made his putt first before Borren responded under the pump, forcing a half in the match.

At 2.5 games each the result was on a knife-edge until Park No1 Chris Snow stood on the 18th tee, 1-up against Ben Patston.

Snow’s drive came up short of the green in perfect position while Patston found himself well back on top of a marram grass knoll after a skied tee shot.

Eventually, Snow’s third still left him a 2-metre par putt.

He calmly slotted it in front of a big gallery.

Island Park will now represent the Metropolitan area at the Otago Pennant finals in October, joining their intermediate and junior A teams who won their finals.

 - Michael Minty

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