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Mountcastle rallies for second

By Jake Beleski

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A late charge was not enough to propel Masterton’s Kerry Mountcastle to the top of the leaderboard in the New Zealand Men’s Stroke Play Championships at Hastings Golf Club on Sunday.

Mountcastle finished tied for second with Harry Hillier (Te Puke Golf Club) after four rounds, eventually finishing 10-under-par.

Mark Hutson (Muriwai Golf Club) went wire to wire, leading the tournament the whole way and eventually finishing 12-under-par to claim the biggest win of his career by two strokes.

Mountcastle was up against it heading into the final round, trailing Hutson by seven shots when the day began.

Hutson endured a tough start over the front nine, allowing a number of players to sneak back into contention.

“I didn’t realise he (Hutson) had a bad start to the round because I was in the group in front of him,” Mountcastle said.

“I found out towards the end that it was actually getting quite close.”

Mountcastle made the turn at nine-under-par and made two huge par saves on the 10th and 11th holes, with the save on the par-five 10th after having to take an unplayable almost defying belief.

After those two saves he immediately birdied the 12th hole and suddenly was one shot back and looking a likely contender.

However, he couldn’t find the spark over the final six holes, and with six straight pars had to settle for a tie for second place.

“The first 11 holes were very scrappy,” he said.

“I was hitting it in the tress a bit and getting away with it.”

He was looking to chase down Hutson as the round progressed, but always thought a realistic goal was “to come second”.

Achieving that had been a positive result for Mountcastle, who admitted his form prior to the tournament had been shaky.

“It’s a really good performance because leading up to this tournament I haven’t really been playing that well.

“It’s a positive sign.”

Mountcastle now turns his attention to a tournament starting on Thursday at the Akarana Golf Club in Auckland, which is followed by two other tournaments in quick succession.

“The week after Akarana there’s another one in Auckland at Muriwai Golf Club, and then two weeks after that there’s one in Tauranga . . . it’s a big five weeks.”

For Hutson, winning the New Zealand Stroke Play Championships was a culmination of years of hard work.

“This is why you practice every day for moments like this, it just feels awesome,” he said shortly after his victory.

“It definitely wasn’t the start I was after.

“I just said to myself stay patient, I have played the back nine better this week and I knew that the birdies would come.”

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