“We got pumped” was the best way the lads could sum up our day as we drove home over the Rimutaka’s in heavy rain on Saturday evening! The 11.5 – 3.5 final result is evidence of this statement being very accurate.
Winners of the 2022 Otaki Cup, BFHGC were always going to be a tough opponent and, at times, we just have to accept that results like this can happen in a “rebuilding year” for this team. The result was certainly not indicative of a lack of effort or desire. We did our best but ultimately fell short.
For large parts of the morning session, there was belief as four of the five foursomes matches hung in the balance. Just the one match got away from us quickly with Dean Gray and Jack Forrester struggling to stay with their opponents. Losing six of the first seven holes is never the start you hope for but they finally got one back to be five down at the turn. Any signs of a comeback would end there, however, as the pair succumbed to a 6/5 loss.
Starting on the 10th hole, Rob Blackett and Simon Dew lost a couple of early holes before finding their rhythm to get their match back to square with eight to play, courtesy of an eagle on the par 5, first hole. Unfortunately, their opponents would win three of the next six to win the match 3/2.
Joel Macklin and Luke Lange once again showed great promise as a foursomes pairing, getting out to a two up lead through the turn, despite having to take an unplayable on the second hole of the day when Joel’s tee shot on the 11th found a bunker and literally disappeared under the surface!
When the match was all square with two to play, the pair showed great composure to not make any mistakes but ultimately lost the match one down when their opponents drained a 15 foot birdie putt on the last. Bugger!
At the top of the order, another new pairing this season is also showing exciting promise. On the back of an impressive 4/2 win together in round one, three weeks ago, Sam Forrester and Jamie Frew got back to work, fighting hard against two strong opponents. Trading two wins and two losses through the first nine holes, they were square at the turn before applying some real pressure, winning holes one and four with birdies to now hold a three up lead with five to play. It was only a successful downhill 25 foot sliding putt from their opponents on the 6th hole that kept the match alive with three holes to play. Sam then hit a superb tee shot on the difficult par 3, 7th and Jamie completed the birdie by making the putt and closing out the match with another 4/2 win. The first point of the day was finally banked. Nice work fella’s!
The team was stoked to see Phil Tuoro return to the fray for the first time in the 2023 season and his putter was ‘hot’ from the outset. Unfortunately, some of Phil’s comments to me throughout the morning alluded to the fact that his other clubs were more akin to the temperature of the southerly wind blowing across the course. Jason Lange was another to be making his return to the team for the first time this season and it was great to see this newly formed pairing in a tight tussle with their opponents. One down through five holes and the same at the turn, they showed their fight to get it back to all square with two to play. Unfortunately, Phil’s tee shot found the internal out-of-bounds on the par 5, 8th and despite their best efforts to scramble a half, they would lose the hole to be one down going to the last, the par 3, 9th hole. Langer hit a solid tee shot to get inside their opponents and when they conceded Boulcott’s par putt the scene was set for Phil’s hot putter to go to work one more time. With a decent crowd gathered (Phil does love to entertain a crowd), Phil rolled in a beautiful birdie putt from around 15 feet, later saying he was tempted to walk it in from six feet out. It never looked like missing!
It is always nice to go to lunch on the back of something so positive and despite being 3.5 – 1.5 down, there was a feeling that might be the spark to get things going for us in the afternoon. Not satisfied with this, Joel Mackilin offered a $100 bar tab for the team aftermatch if we could get 6.5 points from the afternoon session. When we were down in seven of the ten matches at the turn, some by significant margins, it was fair to say that Joel’s money was safe for today!
Some mini fight backs from our lower order were impressive to see but none could turn things around far enough to genuinely get back into their matches. Our first group out, Simon Dew and Luke Lange suffered 5/4 and 6/4 defeats respectively and with Jack Forrester and Jason Lange needing to win the short par 4, 4th to keep their matches alive, things were looking a little grim. It would get worse though. Jack Forrester’s attempts to drive the green on this hole led to a bit of a pull. A loud call of “fore” had those of us standing on the third tee block ducking for cover when the sickening sound of ball hitting flesh made me grimace! It would be Rob Blackett who took the full force of this wayward drive when it hit his back on the fly. Not what he needed when in a tight match, being all square at this point. On the bright side, the deflection put Jack’s ball back in play when it would otherwise have been toast! He didn’t make the most of this break though, failing to get up-and-down for his birdie to keep his match going. Both he and Jason would walk off the 4th green with 6/5 losses.
The middle and top order were the ones providing the hope this week, with most involved in tight tussles throughout the first nine. At number six in the line up, Rob Blacket was one down while playing partner, Jamie Frew was one up through the turn. With all four players in this group making birdie on the 4th, Rob was all square and Jamie two up with five holes to play.
Jamie played some great golf to close out his match with a well-deserved 3/2 win, finishing it with an impressive up-and-down from a spot you are not supposed to get up-and-down from on the par 3, 7th. We finally had a point banked from the afternoon session! Well done Jamie and congratulations on contributing to two of the 3.5 team points today!
An impressive response to his opponent’s outstanding tee shot still saw Rob lose the par 3, 7th hole to a tap-in birdie, meaning he was now two down with two to play. Despite his best efforts, he really needed an error from his opponent on the 8th to stay in his match but it wouldn’t come. Another great effort from Rob, particularly given he played his last six holes with a growing ‘welt’ on his back but a 2/1 loss was the final result.
There was a glimmer of hope when Phil’s opponent, PGA professional Alistair Sidford, hit his first tee shot out of bounds to start their afternoon singles match. I was told later that my comment of “gees, that’s worse than anything I’ve ever hit off this tee” was said a little louder than it perhaps should have been. Oops! To be fair, he didn’t just hit it into the carpark, his ball flew over the car park and landed in the stream! Unfortunately, a long story (and details that still make my mind boggle) later, Phil walked off the hole with a 3-putt triple bogey and a loss! He and Sam would be three down and four down respectively at the turn. With two quality opponents, it was always going to be tough to get back into these matches from here and this would prove to be the case. Sam went down to a 6/4 loss and Phil 3/2.
Our top pair of Dean Gray and Joel Macklin were faring better, both being one up at the turn. Joel’s match remained tight throughout the second nine but Dean lost a bit of momentum, getting to three down with three to play. When Dean’s opponent tried to do too much in his attempts to scramble a par on the par 3, 7th, a “hosel rocket” that just about collected his team mate, gave us hope that Dean might be able to save half a point. Unfortunately, his match would finish with a 3/1 loss on the next hole.
Joel Macklin was our last hope of earning one more point for the afternoon, getting himself to a two up lead with two to play. A mistake-free par on the 8th was enough to close out his match with a 2/1 win but it still relied on his opponent’s six foot birdie putt missing. We’ll take it. Well done Joel!
Despite a disappointing result, the team still rallied to enjoy some banter and a few refreshments during the van ride home. There is great team spirit and a desire to get out there and get a result against Judgeford at Royal Wellington in two weeks time.
Nathan Frew, Co-Manager