Its the week of the 2nd NZ mini golf Open, Iíve managed to hold on to my 3 days off from work even though we are a couple of people down and lots to do. Iíve got a couple of days practice planned for Wednesday and Thursday. Iím feeling confident on the safari course as we just played it the weekend before in the final Pro League event. The T-Rex Course is the one I want to nail down, you can get hot and score low but just as easily blow out like I did in the last round of the Trans Tasman team qualifying.
I decide to just play a couple of chilled practice rounds on Wednesday as there would be a lot of Mini golf coming in the next few days. Lucky for me the one and only Putter King, Mr Putt Putt down under Allan Cox is already in town practicing and I get to finally meet face to face and get a couple of rounds in with him. Later that night I do an airport run to pick up my now good friend David Maiolo from Australia who I got to spend all my time with while in Croatia at the WAGM and General Class World champs. I stick around for the evening chatting all things mini golf with Dave and Allan until the other two Australianís (Scott Clancy and Nathan Lamplough) arrive around midnight.
Thursday seeís the weather turn a little average was the Aussie crew arrive for their first look and the courses. The T-Rex course gets a little flooded as its prone to do with even the smallest amount of rain, bring back memories of Croatia. after the rain clears we all get out of the safari course, showing some lines to the Aussies and having a little bit of a four ball round with the NZ team that will be playing on Friday in the trans Tasman cup.
Friday the first of the 3 big days of mini golf, time for New Zealand to win back the Trans Tasman cup. Home course advantage should tip the odds in our favour. its going to be played in a Ryder cup style with each match being played over 36 holes. First up is the singles, followed by a two ball best ball, then a four ball best ball and finishing with reverse singles, first to 6 points wins the cup. My first match Iím up against Dave, a solid 35 has me up 5 shots thru 18 and I manage to hold on to win by 5 and its 2-2 after the singles. My two ball partner is Matt Ansley who Iíve played a lot of rounds with over last year, thru the first 18 we are 1 shot behind, but rally well on the second 18 to close out the win. Its 4-2 with our other pairing taking the win as well in the 2 ball. The 4 ball was probably the most fun, the first 18 not so much but we got hot on the second 18 with an 11 for the first 9 nine holes and 15 on the back nine for a win to go 5-2 in front. The Reverse singles almost went perfect for us and took 3 wins and a half to claim back the Cup 8 and a half to 2 and a half. Time to rest as its going to be a long day Saturday.
Saturday, up early to set up for the NZ Open, first up in the morning is the Youth, Parent & Youth and Menís and Womenís Amateur divisions to be played over 3 rounds. Iím on Registration desk and scoring for the morning, making sure the bangle arena is working and everyone gets to see their scores on the screen. After a successful morning in great weather its time to have my final putt before the main comp starts, its 4 rounds Saturday followed by 4 rounds Sunday morning. Iím out in the lead off group with again David Maiolo from Australia and the Putter King Allan Cox, this is our grouping for the day. I come out the gates hot with what will be the best round on the T-Rex course for the weekend, 35 and one shot in front. Round 2 is not my best around the safari course, a 41 with a bunch of stupid errors. Back on the T-rex myself and Allan whoís holding the lead at this early stage, falter a little and card our worst rounds of the weekend, they arenít really really bad but both could have been a few shots better overall. The last round of a long day is on safari and thankfully card a slightly better round than the first safari round. Day one is in the books sitting in third, 7 shots behind Allan whoís out in front and 3 shots behind Matt Ansley.
Sunday, not quite as early of a start as yesterday but still early enough for a Sunday. We re-seed the field for the next 3 rounds and will then re-seed for the last round. Its Myself Matt Ansley and Allan Cox. We are flipping the rotation of courses for Sunday starting on Safari and finishing on T-Rex. First round out and its a solid 37, matching Allanís 37 and sneaking into second by one after Matt cards a 41 first up. The second round we are all very even a 38 each for Matt and myself and a 37 for Allan. Through out the first couple of rounds there is a lot of yelling as Bobby hart makes a run making aces all over the place and putting himself in contention to win the year supply of Red Bull for the most aces overall. Between rounds 2 and 3 I get interviewed by Newshub about the competitive side of mini golf (it screened later that night as the last item on sports news). With two rounds left Iím 8 behind Allan and barring a massive collapse, and having played the first 6 rounds with him watching him hole clutch putts, I doubt that I can get close, instead I focus on holding on to second. Round 3 I feel like nothing wants to fall for me and I make a couple of silly 3ís, not huge errors but enough to fall out of second back into 3rd. Its such a tight competition between the top three, a small error can be costly.
Last round and its the same 3 (Matt, Allan and myself) in the final grouping. 8 behind Allan and 3 behind Matt. The last round starts like the second to last round with just a couple of small errors. Matt is playing well and as Allan has a couple of uncharacteristic bad holes they get back to even with 9 to play. Iím just trying to get something to drop and get someone near the two of them. Allan makes a clutch Ace on 12 after Matt drops a shot on the 11 and gets back the lead by 2. Iím just holding in but an ace on 15 ad a couple of tough holes to got Iím back to 3 behind Matt for second. 16 its impossible to make and ace and nothing changes with the standings. 17 I decide to play the risky line to try for the ace, it backfires I card a 5 and my hopes of a second are gone. But in a nice way to finish the Open I ace the last with a little bit of a crowd around.
So after getting to watch him play all 8 rounds, see the 30 years of experience come shine through under pressure Allan Cox takes out an emotional victory, Matt Ansley finishes 2nd and I finish 3rd. And nice little $250 towards my spending money for the WAGM in June. A great weekend of putting and meeting new friends and catching up with old friends.