Since 2007 elite senior amateur golfers from Australia and New Zealand have faced off annually for the hard fought Sanctuary Cove Trophy, with the venues rotating each year between the two countries. This year the Aussie team was up against it and facing their sixth straight loss. The Kiwis had won seven of the previous ten encounters. Denis Dale reports from this year’s venue, the Sanctuary Cove Golf Club on the Gold Coast.
By Denis Dale
Australia has won the Sanctuary Cove Trophy by 12.5 matches to 11.5 after a dramatic finish to the tournament.
The tournament began with six foursomes matches and the Australian team came out firing. A win and an early lead was all important.
First off were the pairing of Peter Hannah and Ian Frost and they played some great golf and set the tone for the day in winning 2 & 1 over the Kiwi pair of Andrew McKechnie and Reg Fleet.
John Banting and John Davey also played well but the Kiwi pair of Frank Borren and Arthur Parkin matched them and in the end we were defeated 2 & 1. The scores were 1 match all.
Our top team were Australia’s number one golfer Greg Rhodes and fellow Victorian and current Australian Senior Champion Kym Olsen. They didn’t let Australia down and cruised to an easy 6&5 win against Michael Barltrop and John Batley – two of New Zealand’s finest.
Australian veteran and most experienced senior golfer Stefan Albinski was paired with former Eisenhower Cup player Lester Peterson but the Kiwi team of Stuart Nicholls and John Sanders proved a little strong. When they won 2 & 1 the scores were locked at 2 matches all.
The Aussies needed a win and Gordon Claney and Steve Toyne gave it to them. These two had faced each other in the final of the Australian matchplay a few weeks earlier but now were team mates. They faced strong opposition from experienced Kiwis Hugh Harrison and Rodney Barltrop but the final result was a win to the Aussie team 2 & 1.
The final match saw newcomers Geoff Cranfield and Ken Brewer from New South
Wales together. They were up against the Kiwi pair of Murray Martin and Bruce Middlemiss. In a very impressive display of Foursomes golf they ran away with the match and when they had won 6&5 the Australian team had won the morning foursomes by 4 matches to 2.
Time for some lunch and then prepare for the afternoon of Fourball matches.
The. Australians decided to vary the teams for the afternoon fourball matches and every pairing was different. This was a new approach for the Aussies who knew that the Kiwis would be keen to overcome the early lead the Australian team had established.
Stefan Albinski and John Davey had both tasted defeat in the morning but turned the tables on the New Zealand team of Andrew McKechnie and Arthur Parkin for a 3 & 2 win. First blood to the Aussies.
John Banting and Lester Peterson had also lost their opening match but this new pairing really clicked and they ran away from Bruce Middlemiss and Hugh Harrison winning 6 & 5. Peterson was really on fire recording five birdies in the thirteen holes played.
Australia now had a lead but the Kiwis have not won the last five times the two countries have played by giving in and the determination was evident when their team of Reg Fleet and John Batley defeated the Australian team of Steve Toyne and Peter Hannah 3 & 2.
They followed with another win when their pairing of Michael Barltrop and Stuart Nicholls proved just a little too strong for a courageous Aussie pairing of Kym Olsen and Geoff Cranfield. A 2 up victory for the Kiwis saw the scores locked at 2 all. The Australians need a win.
Greg Rhodes and Ken Brewer were next for the Australian and they continued on their winning way with a nice 3 & 2 victory over the Kiwi pairing of Rodney Barltrop and John Sanders.
The Australians had the needed point and it looked like three all as Ian Frost and Gordon Claney came to the final hole trailing Frank Borren and Murray Martin by one. The eighteenth at Sanctuary Cove is one of the best finishing holes in Australian golf and when Ian Frost was the only player to make his par the match was squared.
The Aussies had opened a commanding lead winning the day by 7.5 to 4.5. No team had overcome a 3 match margin on the final day in the events ten year history. But the New Zealanders are known for their never say die attitude. The singles will be exciting.
The weather was another beautiful day and both teams looked nervous as they gathered around the first tee. New Zealand continued the pattern by winning the toss for the third time and had the honour.
Fist off was Peter Hannah and the legend of New Zealand golf Rodney Barltrop. Barltrop has won multiple New Zealand Senior Championships and multiple Australian Senior Championships in a wonderful career. He used all his experience birdieing the seventeenth to reach the lead and winning on the final hole.
Geoff Cranfield was next for the Australians and he faced another experienced New Zealander in Arthur Parkin. In a see sawing battle that again went to the final hole Parkin was the winner 2 up. Just the start the Kiwis needed.
The third match saw newcomers Ken Brewer for Australia and Stuart Nicholls for New Zealand. Both players were undefeated and a real battle was expected. And they delivered. A quality match with both players playing some great golf again would go the eighteenth. Stu Nicholls maintained his advantage to win 1 up.
The Kiwis had wiped out their three match deficit in the opening three matches. The impossible was now the possible.
Match four and Australia’s John Banting was facing the tough New Zealander Frank Borren. It looked good for Australia when we were 3 up with just 4 holes remaining. But Kiwis don’t give up and in an amazing match Borren won the final four hoes and claimed victory at the final hole.
Australia had lost 4 matches at he last hole and now trailed New Zealand. We needed a win to set us on the right course and we needed it soon.
Stefan Albinski was up against popular Kiwi Hugh Harrison. After a tight battle Albinski was one up as they too headed down the final hole. Albinski managed to hang on and his win gave Australia our first point. Back to level.
News came through that John Davey was playing some great golf and he eventually defeated Bruce Middlemiss 5 & 4. A great win. With this much needed point Australia was again in front by one match.
Lester Peterson was up against Kiwi star Murray Martin and after trailing by a hole or two all day Peterson eventually lost 2 § 1. Square again!
Ian Frost was up against the wily veteran John Sanders who has the best record of any New Zealander to play in the Sanctuary Cove Cup. Frost had recorded a win and a half and was keen to go through the series undefeated. He did just that in a high quality match that ended on the seventeenth hole.
The two teams were still in a real battle. Australia had a one match lead with just the four top matches remaining.
This lead soon disappeared when Reg Fleet from New Zealand recorded a 2 & 1 victory over Steve Toyne. In a tough battle Toyne was behind all day and although he rallied late in the match Fleet was a little too strong. All square!
Gordon Claney and Michael Barltrop were locked in another close battle. The pair had played each other in 2016 when Barltrop was the winner and he did the same again in 2017. He played some beautiful recovery shots to record victory on the seventeenth. New Zealand now had the lead by one with two matches still underway.
The top match saw Greg Rhodes against Andrew McKechnie. It was very tight until Rhodes edged ahead on the twelfth hole. Rhodes then played wonderful golf to defeat McKecnie 4 & 3. Rhodes had gone through the series undefeated and Australia’s number one senior golfer again did us proud.
One match remaining and the scores were tied. Australia 11.5 and New Zealand 11.5. Kym Olsen for Australia and John Batley for New Zealand. Olsen was the current Australian Senior Champion. Batley had won the New Zealand Senior Championsip in 2016. They stood on the seventeenth tee all square.
Both played the par five seventeenth hole solidly but Batley had a four footer to halve the hole. Missed. Australia was one hole up playing the final hole.
Both hit wonderful drives on the demanding finishing hole. Split the fairway with water left and right. Batley played first and hit the green but a long putt.
Olsen then played the shot of the tournament. With the gusty wind he backed away until he was set before hitting an iron that missed the hole by centimetres. Batley made par but when Olsen putted safely the match was his. And Australia’s.
A wonderful tournament that produced exciting golf. The Sanctuary Cove Club had once again presented their course in outstanding condition and been wonderful hosts.
This event is the pinnacle of senior golf in both countries and once again it had produced an exciting finish. The last three matches had seen score lines of 13-11, 13-11 and 12.5-11.5.
The next match is February 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
|Peter Hannah||Rodney Barltrop||1up|
|Geoff Cranfield||Arthur Parkin||2up|
|Ken Brewer||Stuart Nicholls||1 up|
|John Banting||Frank Borren||1up|
|Stefan Albinski||1up||Hugh Harrison|
|Ian Frost||3&1||John Sanders|
|John Davey||5&4||Bruce Middlemiss|
|Lester Peterson||Murray Martin||2&1|
|Kym Olsen||1up||John Batley|
|Steve Toyne||Reg Fleet||2&1|
|Gordon Claney||Michael Barltrop||2&1|
|Greg Rhodes||4&3||Andrew McKechnie|