The Victorian men’s team has finished third at the 2016 Australian Men’s Interstate Series won by New South Wales.
It was a new-look Victorian outfit this year. Only Brett Coletta, David Micheluzzi and Andrew Schonewille remained from the victorious 2015 side which included Ryan Ruffels, Lucas Herbert, Ben Eccles and Tom Power-Horan who have since turned professional.
A fit Zach Murray returned to the team after being side-lined last year with injury. While Kyle Michel, Cameron John, Lukas Michel and Will Heffernan all made their men’s State team debuts.
The team secured the maximum amount of points on the opening day with two wins against Tasmania and South Australia.
Their first loss came at the hands of Queensland in the third round where they were defeated 4.2-2.5. Determined to bounce back in the fourth round, the men recorded a dominant 7-0 victory over Northern Territory.
At that stage New South Wales had guaranteed their spot in the final and it was down to Victoria and Queensland to battle for the second position.
With two rounds to go the odds were in Queensland’s favour as they faced Tasmania and Northern Territory, ranked second last and last respectively on the ladder. While the Victorian’s were up against an undefeated New South Wales side and a strong Western Australian team.
Hope for back-to-back titles diminished for the Victorian’s after a fourth round 4.5-2.5 loss to New South Wales. In the final round the men suffered their third 4.5-2.5 loss of the week, this time against Western Australia.
Meanwhile Queensland came home strong, winning both of their remaining clashes and cementing their spot in the final.
Coach Marty Joyce was positive about the performance of the relatively new team.
“I think every series is a great experience. We obviously always want to win but I think we learnt a lot throughout the week and overall I think the guys did a really good job.”
Joyce said there was little pressure on the team who came in as defending champions.
“I think if you had the same team as last year and you had the same group of guys then there’s obviously an expectation within the group but going in we’ve had quite a few [players] turn over so we were going into the week with four new faces and four guys that haven’t played any senior interstate golf,” said Joyce.
“It’s a good learning experience for them and from that, we’ll be better off going into next year.
“Hopefully we don’t have too much of a turn over and can try to keep the same group for a while,” he joked.
Victoria’s strongest performer, Micheluzzi, was also pleased by the new additions to the team.
“We’ll always play to win. Last year was a massive year for us with all four teams winning but I don’t think there was too much pressure on us [this year]. All we try to do is go through the processes and this week it just wasn’t out week.
“The new guys were very impressive this week. Will [Heffernan] went undefeated, Lukas [Michel] played really well and Kyle [Michel] had a really great experience playing against some of the best amateurs in Australia,” he added.
“The guy I was most impressed with was Will [Heffernan]. Credit to him, he’s undefeated for three rounds which is great.”
It was a near-perfect individual performance for Micheluzzi who won five out of six matches, unfortunately losing in the final round to Western Australian Fred Lee.
“My worst lead through 14, except for today, was 1-up so I was always up with four to play.
“I felt the pressure yesterday playing Harrison Endycott, who is arguably the hottest player in Australia at the moment with his four wins through the summer,” said Micheluzzi.
“I didn’t have much to lose but wanted to win [that match] for my own confidence so getting that win was a massive win for me mentally.”
Congratulations to 2016 Australian Men’s Interstate Series champions, New South Wales.
View the final scores here.