2023 New Zealand Women’s Senior Championships
Done & Dusted – Despite All!
The 2023 New Zealand Women’s Senior Championships has been completed on schedule despite the weather challenges that shaped the week for players, organisers, and the host club Whakatane.
Day one, Monday 13 February was completed in style, but with sadly 14 players less than registered, not able to attend with flight cancellations, road and airport closures.
None the less the day belong to Jenny Peters from Northland, who posted the best score, 75 on the par 71 links course. It was a tough opening day with rain affecting much of the day, but Peters was the winner, awarded the Curtis Cup with Claire Aston from Te Teko the best net with 66 and the Eileen Nutt Medal. Ros McIver from Australia had the best gross for a player over 70 and was the recipient of the NZLGU Seniors Vesta Cup.
Tuesday’s 14 February first rounds of match play were cancelled with both local and national states of emergency in effect, road closures and threatening weather due to Cyclone Gabrielle.
A potential 36 holes on Wednesday 16 February for the 114-strong field was a little daunting – players aged from 51 to 80+ - but in difference to many other parts of the country the Bay of Plenty’s Whakatane put on a stunning day.
Top seed, Jenny Peters won her first match 4 and 3 over Brigit Holford (RAGGC) but then had a tough match against Robyn Pellow (Ngaruawahia) going down 2 and 1.
Defending champion Diana Syer (Hastings) was tested all the way to the 19th by Claire Aston (Te Teko) before securing that match, only to lose in the afternoon to Kellie Orchard (Omokoroa) 4 and 3. Orchard had earlier enjoyed a first round victory over Tracy Bary (Rarangi) on the 18th hole, 1 up.
One of Australia’s top senior women, and a past winner in New Zealand, Jacqui Morgan won her first match 3 and 2 over Alison Glover (Ngarauwahia) but then lost to fellow compatriot Nadene Gole 6 and 5.
In her two matches yesterday Carolyn Cressey (Omaha Beach) won both; 2 up over Debbie McCallum (Te Ngutu) and 5 and 4 over Pam Wright (Matamata).
The four semi-finalists were thus found. Robyn Pellow to take on Kellie Orchard, and Nadene Gole charged with securing a final place for the Australians, matching against Carolyn Cressey.
Pellow won 7 and 5 from an opening birdie on the par 5 – 1st hole and another on the par 4 – 8th. It was her morning much to the disappointment for Orchard who had put in many hard yards recently on her game.
Gole had a comfortable win in her semi-final, 4 and 3 over Cressey. Gole starting with a par to Cressey’s bogey and pretty much held a position of one up for the first nine. A concession on the 10th by Cressey, a birdie on the par 3 – 11th, and then a concession on the 15th, Cressey simply ran out of holes.
Gole, a past professional, dominated the final against Pellow – shooting pars to Pellow’s uncharacteristic bogeys, and turned 4 up. The road home from that position for Pellow a tough track and while she matched shot for shot on many holes of the back nine, it was too much to catch up against this talented Australian player.
This was the first time the Australians had been back since Trans-Tasman travel was halted with Covid. Tough competitors and at the elite senior level always provide an outstanding challenge for the Kiwis.
Other Australian winners included Judith Griffiths the Division 2 Champion, the Waipukurau Jubilee Salver, and Sue Connell winning the Manawatu Wanganui Salver in division four.
Players are split into divisions of 16 after the Stroke play-round and Kiwis will have their names on the Hawkes Bay Salver, The Canterbury Rosebowl, the Maunu Trophy, and the Wanaka Cup.
Respectfully Dianne Sweeney (Walton) for division 3, Raima Neil (Ngaruawahia) division 5, Verna Bourke (Patea) for the 6th division and another (Ngaruawahia) player Eleanor Robertson winning the 7th division.
Last ball was sunk by Brigit Holford (RAGGC) in her match, for the Plate in the Challenge Cup division –just in time! Within minutes, a most spectacular thunder and lightning storm enveloped the course as the tournament literally came to an end. Holford won 1up against Helen Pascoe (Australia).
The week was done – and all credit to the players patience and resilience in what had been an extraordinary and disturbing week for Kiwis, and the preparation and flexibility of the Whakatane Golf Club – its greens and pro-staff team, and the many volunteers. Whew!
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