Weather tests elite golfers meeting
From a torrential downpour to start proceedings, to brilliant sunshine, the Tom Bonnington Cup and Mangawhai Invitational saw it all.
Played over 36 holes (shortened from 54 due to heavy overnight rain) on May 28-29, the field awoke to a Saturday morning course that was more water than grass. However, Mangawhai's special character quickly came to the fore, the skies lightened and the course drained superbly to allow play to get under way just an hour after
the scheduled start.
The men's field, playing for the
prestigious Tom Bonnington Cup (a New Zealand Golf Order of Merit tournament), drew 50 entries including some of the country's lowest handicapped amateurs.
Similarly, the women's field of 20, playing for the newly presented Mangawhai Trophy, featured some outstanding players along with some young up-and-comers. In all, 24 North Island clubs were represented.
Saturday's 18 holes was a real test as the nor'westerly piped through consistently to present a real challenge. Surface water had disappeared by tee-off time and the greens were, typically for Mangawhai, slick and true, but the wind ensured every shot needed to be played with great care from tee to green. As a result, scores were a little higher than anticipated, with less than a third of the men's field able to break 80, while in the women's group only one player shot in the 70s.
“It was a day for course management rather than unbridled power,” commented tournament director Stewart Speed.
Best men's scores of the day were 74s posted BOI’s Taylor Gill (a Previous Bonnington winner) and Ben Jujnovich of Redwood Park, closely followed by 75s scored by Keiran Brook (Whitford Park), Joshua Rookes (Waitemata), Jake Meenhorst (Huapai), and James Hydes (Peninsula).
The women were led by last year's winner, Waipu's Kylie Jacoby (75), followed by Soktaera Sean (Northland) with 80, then Samantha Dangen (Whangaroa) and Bridget Connolly, both with 81.
Day two dawned bright, clear and warm and the wind dropped to a much more gentle force. Play got under way with a seeded draw and a good gathering of spectators on both starting tees. Club volunteers had done a wonderful job grooming bunkers before play began on Sunday, while John Donnelly's greenstaff were out mowing and rolling well before the sun reached the horizon.
Overall, the course was in outstanding condition and living up to its status as one of New Zealand's very best championship venues.
The first 9 holes saw a few players making a move, enjoying the benign conditions and showing a good understanding of how the course needed to be played. As the late morning
breeze strengthened, hopes of really hot rounds receded and it became a battle of attrition as the final groups played their last 9 holes. It came down almost to the last putts on the last green for the leading men, with the women's section a little more clear-cut.
The overall consensus was that the combination of typically early winter weather and a course that demands total focus on every shot made this an event that certainly its high ranking on the New Zealand golf calendar.
Despite the relatively high scoring, player comments were unanimously positive and all agreed that the winners were the ones who possessed the game most suited to this championship course.
Men's Gross / Tom Bonnington Cup
Ben Jujnovich (Redwood Park) 74 74 (148)
James Hydes (Peninsula) 75 75 (150)
Taylor Gill (BOI/Kerikeri) 74 76 (150)
Keiran Brook (Whitford Park) 75 76 (151)
Jake Meenhorst (Huapai) 75 76 (151)
Joshua Rookes (Waitemata) 75 76 (151)