Winter wins Maitai Masters
- 5 November 2023
- Peter Watson
Connor Winter has finally gone from nearly man to Total Golf Maitai Masters champion after overcoming some mid-round wobbles to ease to a two-shot victory on Saturday.
For the Nelson club member, who played off a +1 handicap, it was an emotional win after a series of minor placings in the annual 27-hole tournament hosted by the Waahi Taakaro Golf Club.
``I’ve had quite a few close calls where I’ve come second or third over the years so I’m just glad to finally get it done and to know my name will be on the honours board.’’
Winter started well on what was a pristine day for golf, shooting a one-under 35 for the opening nine holes to share the early lead with Elijah Barney (Nelson) and Jack Bell (Greenacres). Waahi Taakaro’s Dean Goodman – an 8-handicapper – shot the lights out with a 36, while Jason Hylkema (Greenacres) came in with 37. Defending champion Kameran Clarke ruined his chances of a three-peat with an opening 42.
With the greens in good condition, Winter putted well, birdieing No 3 and No 6, two of the hardest rated holes, to go with just one bogey.
As the breeze got up and the pace of play slowed with a full field of 74 completing the final 18 holes, he found it tougher to maintain concentration in what was his first stroke-play event in 11 months.
A double bogey on the tricky par-five No 9 over the river, followed by a bogey on the par-five No 10 saw the self-doubts creep in.
``The afternoon was a bit of a struggle and when I doubled No 9 I thought I had blown it, but I hung in there.
``My playing partner Pete Green (Waahi Taakaro club captain) helped keep me calm and get over the line.’’
A clutch birdie at the uphill No 13 got him back on track and he maintained the momentum with a 15 foot for par on No 15 and then extended his lead with an excellent birdie at the difficult 18th before finishing with two pars and a bogey for a 75.
Meanwhile, his rivals couldn’t catch him, with Hylkema – who played off a +2 - getting the nearest with a matching 75, while Clarke and Bell signed for 79s.
Winter’s total of 110 was two better than Hylkema (112), with Bell third on 114 and Barney fourth on 115.
Goodman finished a very creditable fifth on 118, which was easily good enough to take the overall best net. He also won the Pitch for Cash contest after the tournament to complete a memorable day.
Despite a sunny day and a course in remarkable condition given it had been damaged by two major floods in 14 months, yet again no-one could shoot under par for the 72 holes, proving it is a tougher challenge than it looks off the blue tees at almost 6000m.
Winter appreciated the test.
``The course was in great shape considering where things were and I really enjoyed it.
``I played a lot of my junior golf up here when I was learning the game so this win means a lot to me.’’
Tournament director Peter Watson capped off a hectic week by winning the intermediate gross by three shots from fellow Waahi Taakaro member Richard Denby. Watson shot a 42 to go with an afternoon 81 in playing to his 10-handicap.
Manu Edmonds (Greenacres) claimed the junior championship, with a total of 145 (50, 95) on countback from Waahi Taakaro’s Phil Sellers (45, 100).
Another Waahi Taakaro member, Bradley Crabb, shot an excellent net 67 to win the 18-hole competition from another local Corey Wilson (72).
Our thanks go to sponsors Total Golf, NBS, Super Tradie, Elliott Drainage, Rimu Grove and Big Barrel, and to the many club volunteers who helped make the tournament a success. Greenkeeper Eric Shurson and Nelmac also deserve credit for getting the course in great shape for the event.
Full prize list:
SENIOR: Gross; 1st Connor Winter, 2nd Jason Hylkema, 3rd Kameran Clarke, 4th Todd Hamilton
Net ; 1st Jack Bell, 2nd Elijah Barney, 3rd Justin Smith, 4th Peter Green
INTERMEDIATE: Gross, 1ST Peter Watson, 2nd Richard Denby, 3rd Philip Hawke, 4th Laurie McGlone
Net; 1st Geoff Halkett, 2nd Morgan Thorn, 3rd Rob Lopez, 4th Elton Netto, 5th Graham Galt, 6th Wayne Pratt
JUNIOR; Gross; 1st Manu Edmonds, 2nd Phil Sellers, 3rd Grant Thorn, 4th Jed Haymes
Net; 1st Cyril Dawson, 2nd Ian Hanford, 3rd Andrew Craig, 4th Nick Wright, 5th Barry Slater, 6th Andrew Stevenson
18-HOLE NET: 1st Bradley Crabb, 2nd Corey Wilson, 3rd Jim McMullan, 4th Mick Leggett, 5th Mark Nihotte, 6th Emma Kaye, 7th Roma Elkington, 8th Lloyd Moyle
TWOS: Philip Hawke, Phil Sellers, Elijah Barney
PITCH FOR CASH: 1st Dean Goodman, 2nd Grant Thorn
CLOSEST TO PIN: No 2 Glenn Fitzpatrick, No 11 Jed Haymes, No 5 Laurie McGlone, No 14 D Wright
STRAIGHEST DRIVE No 1: E Netto
LONGEST DRIVE No 3: Kameran Clarke (senior), Glenn Fitzpatrick (intermediate), Jed Haymes (junior), Tania Appelman (women)