Date: July 22, 2015
Author: Denis Dale

NZ top Aussies in Sanctuary Cove

The New Zealand Team has won its fourth consecutive Sanctuary Cove Trophy after downing the Australian Team by 13 points to 11 on the Pines Course at Sanctuary Cove last week.

Foursomes Matches

Day one commenced with the foursomes matches in perfect weather conditions. The opening match of the tournament saw Stefan Albinski and Mick Streit lead off for the Aussie team against Kiwi veteran Rodney Barltrop and his partner Frank Borren. The Australians led early but then could do nothing but watch on as the Kiwis holed a series of good putts to take the lead towards the end of the match. First points to New Zealand with a 2&1 win.

The second match saw Queenslander newcomer Steve Toyne partnered with NSW senior Vince Clark against the visiting pairing of Mike Leitch and Robbie Bell. The Australian team played very well and with some fine shot making and precision putting they soon opened an early lead and held on well to record a comfortable 3&2 win.

Victorian pair Barry Tippett and Ian Frost play together often and know each other's games well and used this knowledge to combine perfectly in their match against the Kiwi pairing of John Sanders and Arthur Parkin. With a long string of pars the determined Australians were always in front to record a 4&3 winning margin.

Next up was the newcomer from Victoria Greg Rhodes playing alongside NSW senior Sal Ballard. Their Kiwi opponents Andrew McKechnie and Murray Martin were perhaps the Kiwis best two players and a high quality game was anticipated. The Australians played some good early golf but then a few wayward holes gave the reliable Kiwis a clear lead and they closed out the match when Murray Martin holed out from off the green on the sixteenth hole. The 3&2 win gave the New Zealand team a valuable point.

NSW senior Roy Vandersluis was a late replacement for West Australian Ian McPherson who unfortunately had to withdraw with a back problem. Paired with Darwin player Tom Harold this team were up against Michael Barltrop and Reg Fleet representing the New Zealanders. The Aussies trailed early and although they were never in front they kept fighting back and managed to be just a single hole behind standing on the eighteenth tee. An exciting hole followed with Vandersluis playing a brilliant long bunker shot across the green towards the lake that saw the Aussies square the match and earn a much needed half point.

The final Foursomes match saw the West Australian pairing of John Banting and Trevor Hughes up against the New Zealand team of John Batley and Tony Treen. The Kiwis were dominant early and were three holes in front entering the final nine. The Australian pair then lifted and with some great iron play and precise putting drew level only to again lose the lead again with just the last hole to play. The eighteenth hole proved to be a good one for another Australian pair as Trevor Hughes played a beautiful long range pitch under heavy pressure to the tightest of pins to win the hole and square the match.

Fourball matches

The Fourball matches were played in the afternoon. First off for the Australians were Barry Tippet and Ian Frost looking for their second win. Their opponents were Murray Martin and Mike Leitch and both teams started very well to square the opening holes. Thereafter it was a very tense struggle with the match not decided until the final green when Barry Tippett holed a tricky two metre putt to claim the first afternoon point for Australia.

The Albinski and Streit pair were up against a tough team in Andrew McKechnie and Robbie Bell. The Australian’s opened with an Albinski birdie and they managed to hold onto this slender lead as they moved into the back nine. Beautiful birdies by Streit then increased the home team’s lead and when they parred the seventeenth they had recorded a 2&1 win and another full point for the Aussies.

The third match gave the Kiwis their first point with Michael Barltrop and Frank Borren playing great fourball golf to comfortably defeat the Australian pair of Steve Toyne and Vince Clark with a 5&3 win.

Tom Harold and Roy Vandersluis faced up to the experienced Kiwi’s Rodney Barltrop and John Batley. In another close match the New Zealand team held a slender advantage throughout the match and when the players reached the final hole it was all square. Harold played the very tough closing hole beautifully and when he made a great up and down for a par it was one more valuable point for the Australian team.

The second last match saw the strong Australian pair of Sal Ballard and Greg Rhodes playing another strong NZ pair in Tony Treen and John Batley. It was a tense battle and as darkness quickly moved in it was a great Ballard two putt from 25 metres across the green and over a sloping ridge that saw the Aussies square the match and a point with the Kiwis.

The last fourball match saw the West Australian team of Trevor Hughes and John Banting begin with some wonderful golf and they had soon opened a four-hole lead against Reg Fleet and Arthur Parkin. Then the Kiwis started a comeback that saw them square the match with one hole remaining. In very dark conditions it came down to the final putts but all edged past the hole and it was half a point to each team.

The Fourballs had been a great result for the Australian team who had only lost one match. Their four points to the New Zealanders two gave them a two point advantage heading into the all important singles matches to be played the following day. Perhaps this would be the year the Australians reclaimed the sanctuary Cove Trophy.

Singles Matches

Day two saw the playing of the singles matches in bitterly, cold and windy conditions. Greg Rhodes was the first Australian and he was matched with evergreen New Zealander Mike Leitch. The match was very tight for the opening seven holes but then Rhodes played outstanding golf and his impressive driving and accurate iron play gave him a 5&3 win. The first point was Australia’s and now only needed four and a half additional points to reclaim the Sanctuary Cove Trophy.

Match two saw Sal Ballard up against New Zealander Arthur Parkin. Ballard led early and looked likely to win until Parkin produced some quality shots to square the match standing on the seventeenth tee. Unfortunately Ballard’s drive found the water and Parkin played safely for a par and a one up lead heading down eighteen. Ballard drove well but Parkin’s ball just scraped over the water hazard. Both players then missed the green with Parkin again very fortunate to finish just a metre from the green side lake. He then amazed everyone by holing his difficult pItch to win the hole and gain a full point for New Zealand.

Roy Vandersluis was up against Kiwi newcomer Reg fleet and the pair battled in an exciting match with only one hole in it for most of the day. It was Fleet who edged ahead over the final holes to take out this match on the seventeenth. It had been a close one but it was another point for the visitors.

Two ageless stars from each team faced each other in the next match – Vince Clark for Australia and Rodney Barltrop for New Zealand. Clark played beautifully from tee to green and had many chances to establish a big lead but could do nothing but watch as all of his putts failed to find the hole. Barltrop hung on and when he held a couple of tricky putts late in the day he too had won his match on the seventeenth hole.

Australia's John Banting was up against one of the Kiwis best matchplay golfers in Robbie Bell. It was a very tight match with both players fighting back when the other looked likely to move clear. Banting was two down playing seventeen but with the pressure on he played perfect golf on the closing holes to win them both and snatch a valuable half point for the home team.

Ian Frost was in search of his third win for the tournament when he faced up to classy Kiwi John Batley. During this tournament Frost demonstrated that he handles the pressure very well and in a most impressive debut at this level finished the week with a perfect record. Well done to Ian Frost and his 2&1 win meant another point for the Aussies who now needed just three more points from the remaining seven matches.

New Zealander John Sanders has a great individual record in the Sanctuary Cove Trophy and he kept this record intact with a wonderful display of golf in the very difficult conditions. He did not drop a shot and was under par in defeating Trevor Hughes who could only watch on as Sanders recorded a comfortable win.

Queenslander Steve Toyne had played and beaten Kiwi star Michael Barltrop a few weeks earlier in the Australian Senior Amateur Matchplay Championship and the pair were again doing battle. Toyne trailed early but then rallied to take the lead and was two holes ahead with two to play. An unexpected three putt on seventeen gave the hole to Barltrop and a very clever pitch on the last then gave Barltrop a squared match. Half a point to each country.

Mick Streit was two down early in his match against quality New Zealander Tony Treen and although he fought on well the match remained that way for the rest of the day with Treen yet another Kiwi to win on the second last hole. It was now becoming difficult for Australia to find the extra points they needed to win back the trophy.

Australia’s Barry Tippett had recorded two wins in the foursomes and fourballs but would face the very tough competitor Frank Borren from New Zealand in his quest to remain undefeated. Tippett played well but Borren played his usual rock solid golf over the opening nine to lead and then putted superbly to increase this lead and eventually win the match 3&2.

Australia now needed to win both the remaining matches to reclaim the trophy. The first ever representative from the Northern Territory, Tom Harold, was up against the very best of the New Zealanders in long-hitting Andy McKechnie. The Kiwi got off to great start and opened up a four hole lead. Harold kept trying and reduced this to two holes on the seventeenth tee. Both played the hole well but when McKechnie halved the hole and won the match the trophy was heading back across the ditch once again.

Australia’s well-known senior star Stefan Albinski was up against another super star in New Zealander Murray Martin. Both players have won both the Australian and New Zealand Senior Amateur Championship in their careers. It was a head-to-head battle between great competitors with Albinski leading into the back nine before Martin drew square heading down the fifteenth. Played into the teeth of a very strong wind Albinski hit a driver and then another one from the fairway to just three metres from the hole. His birdie putt dropped in and he was one up and went on to win the number one match 3&1.

The Kiwis have now won six of the nine annual contests and are justifiably looking like a dominant team.

Next year the challenge will continue with the event to be played at the Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand in the middle of February. Immediately preceding the Sanctuary Cove Trophy will be the New Zealand Senior Amateur Championship at the nearby Paraparaumu Golf Club.