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Bateman, Mountcastle in hot form

Two Masterton professional golfers are setting the early pace and are on course for top finishes in the NZPGA Order of Merit.

After six weeks of the lengthy 2023 season, Harry Bateman leads, having played eight events, and Kerry Mountcastle is third. Auckland professional Jake Meenhorst separates the pair.

Their good early season form is a continuation from 2022, when Bateman finished second on the Order of Merit, behind only seasoned professional Josh Geary, while Mountcastle was fifth.

Bateman has won one tournament this year, the $50000 Charles Tour Hastings Open, played over 54 holes, with a 15 under par total of 201. However, the 32-year-old will miss some events because he is currently in Melbourne for the Victoria Open starting today.

It’s the tournament where former Masterton professional Ben Cambell finished runner-up in 2022 to qualify for the 150th British Open at St Andrew’s. This year’s tournament does not include qualification for the British Open.

Mountcastle impressed last week with two wins in two days, firstly in the Boulcotts Farm Heritage Pro-Am in Lower Hutt, where he shot a stunning 10 under par 61, a round which featured 10 birdies, four on the front nine, and six on the back nine, to win by five shots.

He followed that with the top spot in the Paraparaumu Beach Pro-Am, with a six under par 65, finishing tied with local amateur Alec Prentice.

Today’s Waitemata Pro-Am on Auckland’s North Shore is the next target for the in-form Mountcastle, who is uncertain what to expect given recent flooding in the region.

“It’s an interesting little course, very, very flat and possibly a little bit wet because they said about 80 per cent of the course was underwater last week,” said Mountcastle, who will back up this weekend in the Expol Pro-Am, to be played over two days at Waihi Beach.

Bateman’s absence from those two events could see him lose his place at the top of the Order of Merit, with Meenhorst only 70 points behind and Mountcastle just 1265 points off the lead.

Next up will be the Charles Tour Manawatu Super 6s, a tournament Mountcastle won in 2021. The Super 6s is a unique format combining 54 holes of traditional stroke play on the first three days with a cut-throat six-hole knockout medal match play format for the fourth and final round.

Bateman and Mountcastle will then play the 36-hole Brian Perry Classic in Hamilton and the Lake Tewa Invitational at Jacks Point, Queenstown, in preparation for the highly sought-after New Zealand Open at Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort from March 2-5, followed by the NZPGA Championship.

Mountcastle believes getting the early season victories has been a good confidence boost.

“I’m heading in the right direction, and getting some results like that is awesome. For me, it’s just improving and playing good golf and just see how the results go from there.”

Unlike most other countries, the NZPGA season runs over the calendar year, with a break from late April to the end of September. Mountcastle believes the NZPGA probably need to align with the other countries and have a continuous season without a lengthy break.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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