Tautari showing form to hold on to his title

Matt Tautari appears in no rush to hand back his Otago matchplay title.

Tautari has shown all the form you would expect of a defending champion and will start today’s semifinals at the Otago Golf Club as a warm favourite to make it back-to-back successes.

The Invercargill golfer will play surprise package Ryan Bellamy (St Clair) in one semifinal, and Will Young (Otago) will challenge Phil Bungard (Chisholm Links) in the other.

Tautari had to fight to squeeze past Liam Hewitt (Queens Park) 1-up in the first round of knockout play yesterday morning.

But the Southlander then turned up the heat in the quarterfinal against Duncan Croudis (Otago), firing an astonishing seven birdies on the front nine to be 4-up at the turn before coasting to a 4 and 3 win. Croudis had eased to a 4 and 3 win over Matthew Crawford (St Clair) in the first round.

Two of the stories of the tournament have been Bellamy and Bungard, who reached the semifinals despite qualifying only 16th and 15th respectively.

Bellamy shocked No1 qualifier Brandon Hodgson (Otago) 1-up in the first round then beat No8 qualifier Leith Campion (Gore) by the same score in the quarterfinal.

Bungard upset No2 qualifier Jacob Bellamy (Port Chalmers) 4 and 2 in the first round then beat Otago club champion Tom Lee on the first extra hole in the quarterfinal.

Young reached the semifinals with a 2-up win over Mathew Weir (Otago) in the quarterfinal, having beaten Mackenzie Gibson (Chisholm Links) 4 and 2 in the first round.

Young fired the best 18-hole score, 65, in Saturday’s qualifying rounds before a 76 dropped him to third. Hodgson (70 and 68) was the top qualifier, finishing a shot ahead of Jacob Bellamy (68 and 71).

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