Higham eyes East Coast Open

Another East Coast Open men’s championship title would mark his birthday nicely.

Another East Coast Open men’s championship title would mark his birthday nicely.

ANDREW Higham knows what he wants for his 30th birthday.

Another East Coast Open men’s championship title would mark the occasion nicely.

Higham moves into his fourth decade on Sunday. And he would love nothing more than to blow out the candles with victory in the 2017 edition of the East Coast Open on his home Te Puia Springs track.

The degree of difficulty in his mission has been lowered by the absence of the top two players in Poverty Bay-East Coast golf — Peter Kerekere and William Brown, who are in Taupo for the national Maori championships.

But there’s quality in the queue behind and Higham will be well aware of that.

It would be a coin toss to decide favouritism. Higham is seeded second on handicap but has a record of success on the picturesque Springs course, and local knowledge to go with it.

That will certainly come into play, particularly on the greens.

At the head of seedings is Anaru Reedy, who is returning to a place not far from his roots to try to add a fourth East Coast Open crown to his collection.

Now Gisborne-based but a Coastie to the marrow of his bones, Reedy goes in on the back of some majestic form on his now home Poverty Bay course.

Should he reproduce that, not only will those against him need to bring their A+ games, it will be a pleasure to watch.

But he’s beatable and this is the sort of tournament on the sort of course where the unlikely can be, well, more likely . . . especially if you bring your short game.

And for that, you need look no further than defending champion Simon Jeune.

He defeated Higham 3 and 2 in the final last year, and it was Jeune’s chip-and-putt game that were the bricks of his victory.

Probably the most respected player in the top 16 field, Jeune will be up there at the business end if his game off the tee is on song.

He is also part of a significant contingent of over-50-year-olds in the top bracket.

The dark horse among them, or white in his case, could be Allan White. He would be the first to write off his chances verbally. But don’t be fooled by any defeatist comments. The competitive fire burns inside him as intensely as any in this field.

Once again the Open has attracted players from most Poverty Bay-East Coast clubs, as well as from outside the region, and includes the regular Wellington contingent.

For those whose golf clubs are more like axes over the two days, there is always the famous Te Puia hospitality to indulge in. Overindulge, for some.

ANDREW Higham knows what he wants for his 30th birthday.

Another East Coast Open men’s championship title would mark the occasion nicely.

Higham moves into his fourth decade on Sunday. And he would love nothing more than to blow out the candles with victory in the 2017 edition of the East Coast Open on his home Te Puia Springs track.

The degree of difficulty in his mission has been lowered by the absence of the top two players in Poverty Bay-East Coast golf — Peter Kerekere and William Brown, who are in Taupo for the national Maori championships.

But there’s quality in the queue behind and Higham will be well aware of that.

It would be a coin toss to decide favouritism. Higham is seeded second on handicap but has a record of success on the picturesque Springs course, and local knowledge to go with it.

That will certainly come into play, particularly on the greens.

At the head of seedings is Anaru Reedy, who is returning to a place not far from his roots to try to add a fourth East Coast Open crown to his collection.

Now Gisborne-based but a Coastie to the marrow of his bones, Reedy goes in on the back of some majestic form on his now home Poverty Bay course.

Should he reproduce that, not only will those against him need to bring their A+ games, it will be a pleasure to watch.

But he’s beatable and this is the sort of tournament on the sort of course where the unlikely can be, well, more likely . . . especially if you bring your short game.

And for that, you need look no further than defending champion Simon Jeune.

He defeated Higham 3 and 2 in the final last year, and it was Jeune’s chip-and-putt game that were the bricks of his victory.

Probably the most respected player in the top 16 field, Jeune will be up there at the business end if his game off the tee is on song.

He is also part of a significant contingent of over-50-year-olds in the top bracket.

The dark horse among them, or white in his case, could be Allan White. He would be the first to write off his chances verbally. But don’t be fooled by any defeatist comments. The competitive fire burns inside him as intensely as any in this field.

Once again the Open has attracted players from most Poverty Bay-East Coast clubs, as well as from outside the region, and includes the regular Wellington contingent.

For those whose golf clubs are more like axes over the two days, there is always the famous Te Puia hospitality to indulge in. Overindulge, for some.

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