CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Feb, 22, 2012) -- It was a poignant moment at the Christchurch Golf Club today when the practice rounds for the South Island Stroke Play stopped to observe two minutes of silence at 12:51pm, exactly one year on since the earthquake hit that ruined the city and killed 185 people.
An all-star cast of New Zealand amateur golf is in town to contest the South Island Stroke Play title but before the tournament begins tomorrow there was a chance to reflect and share in the mourning of what the Garden City has lost.
The Christchurch Golf Club is an appropriate place for such a moment as they have suffered more than most clubs in the region with their historic clubhouse in tatters.
“It has definitely been tough and the hard times really hit home today with the practice rounds coming to a standstill to observe two minutes silence at 12:51pm,” said Dave Mangan, the National Tournament Manager at New Zealand Golf.
“The Christchurch Golf Club has been great since the earthquake hosting the Shirley Open on the Charles tour and recently the Sanctuary Cove Trophy all the members always get behind national events at the club.”
Many of New Zealand’s best have got behind this event with Melbourne based Ben Campbell, the New Zealand number one, coming home to compete alongside Blair Riordan and Daniel Pearce who impressed recently in the Australian amateur events.
Also in company are Srixon Academy members Mathew Perry and Vaughan McCall who is the defending champion.
The 20-year-old from the Gore Golf Club is excited about the opportunity to win the national title again.
“It’s my first time defending a senior national title I can’t wait to see how I hold up under the pump of having defending champ behind my name,” said the New Zealand rep.
“There is also such a strong field this year with most of the Academy members playing, Ben Campbell coming back Dan Pearce and Blair Riordan in such great form.”
Mangan believed the field is one of the strongest contesting the title in recent time and expected a great battle at the Christchurch Golf Club.
“With Ben back it adds real quality to the field. All of our top guys playing are the ones that have been in Australia which I think is testament to the regard they have for the Christchurch golf club being such a good test. The club have been renovating all there fairways and getting rid of all the poa but they are still in great condition. And as always the green surfaces are in great condition with true roll and a bit of speed.”
McCall, who won the title from behind on the final hole in Timaru last year, the leader Sam An had a double bogey at the last and McCall made a clutch birdie to win, described his win as “a really satisfactory performance”.
His form has been mixed in 2012 as he looks to back up his first year of representing New Zealand.
“I injured my shoulder a few weeks ago and I had to pull out of Grant Clements and Southland Stroke Play so I was unable to practice leading up to Riversdale Cup, I had a massive learning curve there it was a really good opportunity for me mentally.
“Shirley is always a strong challenge with its length off the tee and they always get the greens up to a good pace for the Shirley Open.”