Blazer of glory

And still the champ: Andrew Higham retained the East Coast Open crown at Te Puia Springs on Sunday. He beat Opotiki’s Micky Huriwaka 4 and 3 in the final.
File picture by Paul Rickard

The hands of his grandfather rested on the shoulders of Andrew Higham as he was crowned East Coast Open champion for the fourth time last weekend.

The late Beau Rasmussen was not there in body but for Higham he was present in spirit and material form.

Defending champion Higham wore his grandfather’s Te Puia Springs Golf Club blazer at prize-giving — a fitting tribute just five months after he passed away.

Beau bought the blazer many years back as part of the Springs’ “Thursday Club”. He gave it to his grandson about five to six years ago and Sunday was the first time he had worn it.

Higham’s victory speech featured a dedication to his granddad.

It was enhanced by uncle and major sponsor Hikurangi Foodmarkets representative Henry Rasmussen presenting him a trophy Higham probably treasures the most in his Poverty Bay-East Coast career.

Higham, who started his golf at the Springs, put his name in gold letters on the Te Puia Springs honours boards for the umpteenth time with a 4 and 3 win over Opotiki’s Micky Huriwaka

The self-employed painter-decorator is not one to wax lyrical. Simply put, he played “solid-as” over the two days.

He started on Saturday morning with a 6 and 5 thrashing of Peter Stewart, then threw a handful of birdies at William Brown in a 5 and 4 afternoon win.

It set up a delectable semifinal against fellow Poverty Bay-East Coast representative Peter Kerekere.

There was an extra edge to this battle.

Higham was the only man in the field to have completed the PBEC “triple crown” of Poverty Bay, King of the Coast and East Coast open titles.

Kerekere has achieved two of the three — the PB and KoTC opens. Only the East Coast Open has eluded him.

The duel between two long-standing Poverty Bay-East Coast representativers was predictably a nail-biter.

Higham made birdie on the 18th to force a sudden-death playoff. Three holes later he chipped dead for a gimme par and Kerekere missed his putt to stay alive.

Waiting in the clubhouse was Higham’s final opponent Micky Huriwaka.

The 29-year-old from Opotiki claimed the prized scalp of four-time EC Open champion Anaru Reedy 3 and 2 in the semifinals.

A teacher’s assistant at Opotiki primary school and junior instructor at the Opotiki course, Huriwaka put up an admirable fight in the final but Higham proved too classy from the get-go.

There was an air of inevitability when Higham put an 8-iron tee shot on the 148-metre ninth hole to within a couple of inches of the hole.

Huriwaka, who has only been playing for seven years, narrowly missed his birdie putt to go 4-down, then lost his ball in boggy rough on the 10th.

He clawed one back when Higham made his only bogey of the round on the 11th and closed it to 3-down with a birdie on the 14th.

An errant drive on the 15th proved a killer blow for Huriwaka but he wasn’t too disappointed considering it was the first time he had played in the tournament.

Higham was chuffed, particularly at going back-to-back — a feat only a small group have achieved.

He added 2019 to his 2011 and 2015 wins, matching his four runner-up performances.

It was also an early birthday present. He turned 32 on Tuesday.

Once again Te Puia turned on not only glorious weather but outstanding hospitality Huriwaka described as “10-star”.

“It’s one of the top tournaments I’ve ever played in.”

The hands of his grandfather rested on the shoulders of Andrew Higham as he was crowned East Coast Open champion for the fourth time last weekend.

The late Beau Rasmussen was not there in body but for Higham he was present in spirit and material form.

Defending champion Higham wore his grandfather’s Te Puia Springs Golf Club blazer at prize-giving — a fitting tribute just five months after he passed away.

Beau bought the blazer many years back as part of the Springs’ “Thursday Club”. He gave it to his grandson about five to six years ago and Sunday was the first time he had worn it.

Higham’s victory speech featured a dedication to his granddad.

It was enhanced by uncle and major sponsor Hikurangi Foodmarkets representative Henry Rasmussen presenting him a trophy Higham probably treasures the most in his Poverty Bay-East Coast career.

Higham, who started his golf at the Springs, put his name in gold letters on the Te Puia Springs honours boards for the umpteenth time with a 4 and 3 win over Opotiki’s Micky Huriwaka

The self-employed painter-decorator is not one to wax lyrical. Simply put, he played “solid-as” over the two days.

He started on Saturday morning with a 6 and 5 thrashing of Peter Stewart, then threw a handful of birdies at William Brown in a 5 and 4 afternoon win.

It set up a delectable semifinal against fellow Poverty Bay-East Coast representative Peter Kerekere.

There was an extra edge to this battle.

Higham was the only man in the field to have completed the PBEC “triple crown” of Poverty Bay, King of the Coast and East Coast open titles.

Kerekere has achieved two of the three — the PB and KoTC opens. Only the East Coast Open has eluded him.

The duel between two long-standing Poverty Bay-East Coast representativers was predictably a nail-biter.

Higham made birdie on the 18th to force a sudden-death playoff. Three holes later he chipped dead for a gimme par and Kerekere missed his putt to stay alive.

Waiting in the clubhouse was Higham’s final opponent Micky Huriwaka.

The 29-year-old from Opotiki claimed the prized scalp of four-time EC Open champion Anaru Reedy 3 and 2 in the semifinals.

A teacher’s assistant at Opotiki primary school and junior instructor at the Opotiki course, Huriwaka put up an admirable fight in the final but Higham proved too classy from the get-go.

There was an air of inevitability when Higham put an 8-iron tee shot on the 148-metre ninth hole to within a couple of inches of the hole.

Huriwaka, who has only been playing for seven years, narrowly missed his birdie putt to go 4-down, then lost his ball in boggy rough on the 10th.

He clawed one back when Higham made his only bogey of the round on the 11th and closed it to 3-down with a birdie on the 14th.

An errant drive on the 15th proved a killer blow for Huriwaka but he wasn’t too disappointed considering it was the first time he had played in the tournament.

Higham was chuffed, particularly at going back-to-back — a feat only a small group have achieved.

He added 2019 to his 2011 and 2015 wins, matching his four runner-up performances.

It was also an early birthday present. He turned 32 on Tuesday.

Once again Te Puia turned on not only glorious weather but outstanding hospitality Huriwaka described as “10-star”.

“It’s one of the top tournaments I’ve ever played in.”

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