Photo from left Paul McEwan, Rod Latham
2 Weeks – 200 plus Golfers Hit Denarau!
PaR nz Golfing Holidays, in conjunction with the Denarau Golf & Racquet Club and Sheraton Fiji, will host over 220 golfers and a further 20 supporters and non-golfing partners in a two-week Programme at two annual tournaments. Completed on Friday 11 August was the 19th Sheraton Fiji Denarau Women’s Golf Classic and today, 31 teams will tee off in the 2023 Sheraton Fiji Villa Challenge. Both programmes include 7 nights at the Sheraton Fiji or Sheraton Villas, four rounds of golf, lunches, several evening functions, extra sightseeing, flights and local shopping with an estimated value to local economy and greater tourism industry in excess of FJD $1m. These tours have a strong and special link with Fiji. “Our first international tour out of New Zealand in 2003 had a small group of only 12 competitors and, now, well it’s like home in many ways,” said Denise Langdon of PaR nz Golfing Holidays. “We kept alive the Villa Challenge started by John & Wendy Cooper of ISTAS and their unique scoring Stableford system still in play.” The ladies last week started the tournament with a fun Ambrose challenge, followed by three days pairs competition including foursomes, four-ball, and combined Stableford. Players from Australia and New Zealand were joined by two locals, Sulu Brook and Tiri Naylor. 41 clubs were represented with the furthest traveled by players from Perth. The winning pair were announced on Friday 11th, Annette Muir from Te Arai Links, a regular district representative for North Harbour, paired with Christine Fleury from Waitemata on Auckland’s North Shore. Fleury had the best of weeks with a stunning start – a hole in one on her first shot of the day – in the fun Ambrose. The week ended with a lavish award ceremony with the theme ‘Come as a Queen’ and acknowledged the achievement of the tournament’s Octogenarian, Elaine Swanney, who picked up 3rd place with her fellow Dannevirke partner, Jad Suttor. This week’s tournament is a team’s event where each players score counts – over four rounds – with handicaps changing daily according to the original ISTAS scoring system. Supporters’ eyes will be on the tournament’s lowest marker Paul McEwan, a past New Zealand Black Cap who played 4 tests , 17 ODI’s between 1980-1985 and 103 first class games for Canterbury. McEwan’s greatest legacy will no doubt be the work he and his wife Julie, (also playing in the tournament) have done in setting up the Canterbury Neonatal Unit Trust. The couple sadly lost a son two weeks after his birth, and their twin boys were born with a heart condition, needing to spend 95 days on oxygen. Motivated by these events the couple set up the trust fund. McEwan was recognised for this work last year and became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Along with McEwan, another former Black Cap in the field is Rod Latham, also a test player of note, opening for New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup of Cricket. Latham played in 4 tests, 33 ODI’s and was also a Canterbury rugby union player. 51 clubs are represented in this week’s tournament with an even split of men and women. Players again entering from New Zealand and Australia with four locals: Trevor Fox, Janice Hinton, Susan Joyce from Denarau, and Suva player Lilllian Allen. Players tee off at 9.00am with rounds scheduled today, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with prize giving planned for Friday 18 August at the Sheraton Fiji.