Hay, Atkins do Park club championship double at 60

Pair share glory as individuals on their home fairways at Gisborne Park Golf Club.

Pair share glory as individuals on their home fairways at Gisborne Park Golf Club.

THEN AND NOW: The 1973 Poverty Bay-East Coast team, which won the Booth Shield junior interprovincial title included Butch Atkins (crouched) and Karen Pearce (seated next to him), now Karen Hay.
The rest of the PBEC team are, back row: Ian Chatfield, Mark Neill, Bob Haase, Bernie Martin, Mark Neill and Richard Haase. Front: Deborah Dodd, Barbara Dodd and Jill Fitzmaurice. Bob Haase (1994), Martin (1991) and Neill (1973, 1979, 1986) would go to win the Poverty Bay men’s open. 1973 picture from Herald files
Last Sunday the pair completed a Gisborne Park double of sorts in winning senior club championship titles. Picture by Paul Rickard

FORTY-three years ago teenagers Karen Hay and Butch Atkins were members of a Poverty Bay-East Coast junior team that won the Booth Shield junior interprovincial.

On Sunday, the pair shared glory again but this time as individuals, on their home fairways at Gisborne Park Golf Club and at the combined age of 120.

Hay, who turns 61 later this month, won the senior women’s club championship title while 60-year-old Atkins clinched the senior men’s honours.

Karen Hay (or Pearce, her maiden name) will appear in gold on the championship honours board for an incredible 18th time.

It was a second title for Atkins, whose previous crown was in 1991.

Sunday’s wins were not surprises. Hay, the most prolific title winner in Park history, was a warm favourite while Atkins has threatened to get his hands back on the men’s premier crown for the past few years.

Both were made to work, Atkins needing overtime. Hay beat Jo Kerr, a joint member of Park and Poverty Bay and the reigning senior champ at the Bay, on the 35th hole of the 36-hole matchplay final.

Exorcised some demons

Atkins, after leading 5-up after 25 holes, exorcised a few demons to get home over Jayden Bright on the second extra hole.

“It was a decent final, I really enjoyed it,” said Hay.

She set the scene for a potentially comfortable victory by winning the first two holes, But Kerr is a battler. She got those two back and the pair went through nine holes all-square.

By the 14th tee, Kerr was 2-up only for Hay to birdie the 14th, then level the match on the 17th. Hay won the 18th to go into the lunchtime break 1-up.

Hay added to her slight advantage to be 3-up after 32, to which Kerr responded by winning the 33rd (15th) and 34th holes to trail 1-down with two to play.

The finish line was in sight, though, for Hay and she parred the 35th for a 2 and 1 win..

Hay was delighted to add to her legend but said nothing compared with her first win — as Karen Pearce — a titanic 38-hole battle with the late Cini Hapi in 1975.

“I’ll always remember that. It was a real struggle.”

Atkins had to defeat a few personal demons on top of his significantly younger opponent, who was also vying for a second senior title at Park.

Eighth senior final

The former greenkeeper was playing in an estimated eighth senior final, having successfully converted only one of the previous six.

The supremely talented Stu Barker has been Atkins’ nemesis on several of those occasions and last year he fell to Daniel Collier, whose path to the title included equalling the course record.

This time, Atkins was never down but he almost let it slip. He was 3-up after shooting 76 in the morning and extended that to 5-up after 25 holes.

Bright then won the 26th and 27th holes to be 3-down with nine to play. Atkins won the 28th only for Bright to rattle off wins on the 29th, 30th and 31st holes to slash his deficit to 1-down.

They halved the next three holes including the 34th, where Atkins up-and-downed from the bunker and Bright missed a six-foot birdie putt.

The 35th was halved in bogeys but Bright held his nerve under pressure to win the 36th with a par to Atkins’ bogey, and send the final into sudden-death.

The 37th was shared in pars and it was advantage Atkins when he hit the par-3 38th (second) with a 3-iron. Bright missed the green and chipped to 10-foot from the hole. Atkins put his birdie putt to about 2½-feet from the hole. Bright rammed his par effort 4-foot past and, much to Atkins’ surprise, conceded.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have give him that putt,” Bright said “I fought back hard, though . . . but that’s golf.”

While it is not confirmed, it is highly likely the two senior titles at Park have never been won by players over 60. And definitely not in the same year.

FORTY-three years ago teenagers Karen Hay and Butch Atkins were members of a Poverty Bay-East Coast junior team that won the Booth Shield junior interprovincial.

On Sunday, the pair shared glory again but this time as individuals, on their home fairways at Gisborne Park Golf Club and at the combined age of 120.

Hay, who turns 61 later this month, won the senior women’s club championship title while 60-year-old Atkins clinched the senior men’s honours.

Karen Hay (or Pearce, her maiden name) will appear in gold on the championship honours board for an incredible 18th time.

It was a second title for Atkins, whose previous crown was in 1991.

Sunday’s wins were not surprises. Hay, the most prolific title winner in Park history, was a warm favourite while Atkins has threatened to get his hands back on the men’s premier crown for the past few years.

Both were made to work, Atkins needing overtime. Hay beat Jo Kerr, a joint member of Park and Poverty Bay and the reigning senior champ at the Bay, on the 35th hole of the 36-hole matchplay final.

Exorcised some demons

Atkins, after leading 5-up after 25 holes, exorcised a few demons to get home over Jayden Bright on the second extra hole.

“It was a decent final, I really enjoyed it,” said Hay.

She set the scene for a potentially comfortable victory by winning the first two holes, But Kerr is a battler. She got those two back and the pair went through nine holes all-square.

By the 14th tee, Kerr was 2-up only for Hay to birdie the 14th, then level the match on the 17th. Hay won the 18th to go into the lunchtime break 1-up.

Hay added to her slight advantage to be 3-up after 32, to which Kerr responded by winning the 33rd (15th) and 34th holes to trail 1-down with two to play.

The finish line was in sight, though, for Hay and she parred the 35th for a 2 and 1 win..

Hay was delighted to add to her legend but said nothing compared with her first win — as Karen Pearce — a titanic 38-hole battle with the late Cini Hapi in 1975.

“I’ll always remember that. It was a real struggle.”

Atkins had to defeat a few personal demons on top of his significantly younger opponent, who was also vying for a second senior title at Park.

Eighth senior final

The former greenkeeper was playing in an estimated eighth senior final, having successfully converted only one of the previous six.

The supremely talented Stu Barker has been Atkins’ nemesis on several of those occasions and last year he fell to Daniel Collier, whose path to the title included equalling the course record.

This time, Atkins was never down but he almost let it slip. He was 3-up after shooting 76 in the morning and extended that to 5-up after 25 holes.

Bright then won the 26th and 27th holes to be 3-down with nine to play. Atkins won the 28th only for Bright to rattle off wins on the 29th, 30th and 31st holes to slash his deficit to 1-down.

They halved the next three holes including the 34th, where Atkins up-and-downed from the bunker and Bright missed a six-foot birdie putt.

The 35th was halved in bogeys but Bright held his nerve under pressure to win the 36th with a par to Atkins’ bogey, and send the final into sudden-death.

The 37th was shared in pars and it was advantage Atkins when he hit the par-3 38th (second) with a 3-iron. Bright missed the green and chipped to 10-foot from the hole. Atkins put his birdie putt to about 2½-feet from the hole. Bright rammed his par effort 4-foot past and, much to Atkins’ surprise, conceded.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have give him that putt,” Bright said “I fought back hard, though . . . but that’s golf.”

While it is not confirmed, it is highly likely the two senior titles at Park have never been won by players over 60. And definitely not in the same year.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Are you pleased that New Zealand history will be taught in all schools and kura from 2022?