Men’s last chance to prove their prowess

It  is the last-chance saloon for Otago’s top male golfers this weekend.

The annual Otago matchplay championship at Balmacewen is an important tournament in its own right.

But when it is framed as a trial, of sorts, for a couple of major events to come, it assumes even greater importance.

The matchplay is the final opportunity for Otago’s leading representative hopefuls to stake their claims for the eight-man Otago team to compete in the South Island interprovincial next weekend, and play their way into the five-man team for the New Zealand interprovincial at the end of November.

The latter, of course, is highly likely to be affected by Covid but at this stage is going ahead with as many teams as are available.

Defending Otago matchplay champion Matt Tautari, of Southland, will head the field when qualifying starts today.

Tautari beat Callum Judkins on the 19th hole in last year’s final, but a repeat of that clash is impossible as Judkins has exam commitments.

Liam Hewitt, who reached the final of the Southland matchplay last weekend, will seek to keep his good form going at the Otago club, while the likes of Ben Patston, Brandon Hodgson, Duncan Croudis and Phil Bungard will have their eyes on the prize.

Golfers play 36 holes of strokeplay today before the tournament splits into three divisions of 16 for knockout matchplay rounds tomorrow. The semifinals and finals are on Monday.

There were not enough entries to have a women’s event this year.

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