Tautari’s perseverance rewarded with win

Otago strokeplay championship winner Matt Tautari tees off on the 15th hole during the third and...
Otago strokeplay championship winner Matt Tautari tees off on the 15th hole during the third and round yesterday. Photo: Linda Robertson
Matt Tautari (Southland) has played in the Otago strokeplay championships for the past 16 years and finally came up trumps yesterday to win the title with a 5-under-par 208 for the 54 holes.

His previous best performance was fifth placing a decade ago and his win follows a third place in the Canterbury strokechampionship a week earlier.

He finished two shots ahead of Ryan Bellamy, of St Clair, with Otago No1 Fraser MacLachlan in third place three further shots back.

The women’s title went to Roun Lee, of Harewood, but only after a three-way playoff with Juliana Hung, of Russley,  and Jeong Hyung Lee, of Christchurch.

The three players entered the final round tied on 138 and all three carded 71s in the final round to force the playoff.

Tautari’s win is a breakthrough for the Southland representative as his golf career looked to be on the rocks after he suffered from severe sciatica for most of last year.

Tautari (31) said it had been a hell of a year and he only kept going by continually taking medication.

"I got out of bed to play the first round of the Toro [national interprovincial] in December and felt fine and I have not popped any pills since," he said.

Queenstown’s Callum Judkins took the early lead in the event with a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday morning.

This put him one shot ahead of Tautari with MacLachlan and Michael Ormandy (Otago) tied for third.

But Judkins lost his way in the afternoon dropping out of contention with a disastrous 80 leaving Tautari as the overnight leader.

He was one shot ahead of Bellamy with Michael Ormand, of Otago, in third place a further two shots back.

But Tautari made no race in the final round with a solid round of 16 pars and two birdies for a 2-under 69.

Two players who will fondly remember this year’s event are Dominic Brettkelly (Hororata) and Southland junior Liam Hewitt (Queens Park).Brettkelly won the Canterbury title a week ago and holed in one on the 12th hole at Balmacewen yesterday.

Hewitt started the tournament in style with an ace on the difficult par-3 15th hole.

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