Time with family will be a highlight

Steve Donnelly will tee up for the Poverty Bay Open championship.

Steve Donnelly will tee up for the Poverty Bay Open championship.

SPENDING quality time with his “nan” has inspired two-time winner Steve Donnelly to return home from over the Tasman for the Poverty Bay open championship.

Sydney-based Donnelly confirmed yesterday he would be teeing up in the 80th edition of the region’s premier tournament from September 24 to 26 on the Poverty Bay course.

A two-time winner of the title (2004, 2009), Donnelly will join uncle and open great Waka Donnelly in the field, which is filling fast.

Poverty Bay Golf Club manager Dave Keown advised those still thinking about entering to make their decision as soon as possible.

He already had enough entries for four groups of 16, he told The Herald this week.

Steve Donnelly last played for the Keiha Cup open title in 2012, dipping out in the quarterfinals to Andrew Higham.

A lot of water has travelled under Donnelly’s bridge since then — oceans, to be exact, in a passport-stamping journey that has seen him end up in Australia and get engaged.

Donnelly says driving from Wellington to Gisborne and back again with grandmother Mattie — visiting family along the way — will be the highlight of his trip home.

But you can be sure that when he hits the course for the opening round of 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying on Day 1, the focus will be on golf.

Donnelly’s return is even more fitting considering a photograph of him hitting into the 14th green, with Young Nicks Head in the background, is the promotional poster for the 2015 championships.

It also means another double Donnelly challenge, with Auckland-based Waka seeking a record-equalling eighth open title.

Frank Gordon holds the record. Waka Donnelly has been sitting on seven, alongside the late Eric Gordon, since 2010 when he beat Steve Donnelly in the final.

Waka and Steve Donnelly aren’t the only former champions returning.

Former Gisborne golfer David Solomann, a surprise winner of the 1995 open, has entered.

“Solly” is now a member of Auckland nine-hole course Wattle Downs and plays off a 4-handicap.

Wairakei International member Bruce Wilson, who won the 2013 title and could be the only left-hander to have achieved the feat, will also be in the field.

Defending champion Higham, vying for a fifth consecutive senior men’s club championship crown at the Bay tomorrow, and 2007 open champion Tony Akroyd indicated yesterday they would be entering.

Poverty Bay trainee greenkeeper and 2012 winner William Brown and fellow Poverty Bay-East Coast representative Eddie Brown jr were also expected to enter.

The open is a trial for the Poverty Bay-East Coast senior and masters teams for their national interprovincial tournaments, so a strong showing will go a long way towards securing berths.

The field will feature a good number of outsiders.

Players from Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty and Wellington have entered, along with Australia-based Poverty Bay member Kim Gunness, who will be bringing a couple of mates with him across the Tasman.

SPENDING quality time with his “nan” has inspired two-time winner Steve Donnelly to return home from over the Tasman for the Poverty Bay open championship.

Sydney-based Donnelly confirmed yesterday he would be teeing up in the 80th edition of the region’s premier tournament from September 24 to 26 on the Poverty Bay course.

A two-time winner of the title (2004, 2009), Donnelly will join uncle and open great Waka Donnelly in the field, which is filling fast.

Poverty Bay Golf Club manager Dave Keown advised those still thinking about entering to make their decision as soon as possible.

He already had enough entries for four groups of 16, he told The Herald this week.

Steve Donnelly last played for the Keiha Cup open title in 2012, dipping out in the quarterfinals to Andrew Higham.

A lot of water has travelled under Donnelly’s bridge since then — oceans, to be exact, in a passport-stamping journey that has seen him end up in Australia and get engaged.

Donnelly says driving from Wellington to Gisborne and back again with grandmother Mattie — visiting family along the way — will be the highlight of his trip home.

But you can be sure that when he hits the course for the opening round of 36 holes of strokeplay qualifying on Day 1, the focus will be on golf.

Donnelly’s return is even more fitting considering a photograph of him hitting into the 14th green, with Young Nicks Head in the background, is the promotional poster for the 2015 championships.

It also means another double Donnelly challenge, with Auckland-based Waka seeking a record-equalling eighth open title.

Frank Gordon holds the record. Waka Donnelly has been sitting on seven, alongside the late Eric Gordon, since 2010 when he beat Steve Donnelly in the final.

Waka and Steve Donnelly aren’t the only former champions returning.

Former Gisborne golfer David Solomann, a surprise winner of the 1995 open, has entered.

“Solly” is now a member of Auckland nine-hole course Wattle Downs and plays off a 4-handicap.

Wairakei International member Bruce Wilson, who won the 2013 title and could be the only left-hander to have achieved the feat, will also be in the field.

Defending champion Higham, vying for a fifth consecutive senior men’s club championship crown at the Bay tomorrow, and 2007 open champion Tony Akroyd indicated yesterday they would be entering.

Poverty Bay trainee greenkeeper and 2012 winner William Brown and fellow Poverty Bay-East Coast representative Eddie Brown jr were also expected to enter.

The open is a trial for the Poverty Bay-East Coast senior and masters teams for their national interprovincial tournaments, so a strong showing will go a long way towards securing berths.

The field will feature a good number of outsiders.

Players from Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty and Wellington have entered, along with Australia-based Poverty Bay member Kim Gunness, who will be bringing a couple of mates with him across the Tasman.

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