The 2024 New Zealand Open Championship was played from 20-27 January at United CC and Cashmere CC in Ōtautahi, Christchurch.
14 pairs took part in the Doubles, with each pair playing five matches in a Swiss format. The top four would advance to a semi finals, with the remaining ten taking part in a Plate knockout. Toby Garrison (Wellington) and Jarrod Coutts (South Canterbury) put themselves forward as early contenders, winning all five of their matches in the Swiss. Chris Shilling (Otago) and Harps Tahurangi (Wellington) also looked formidable early, winning four matches, with their only loss coming against Paddy Chapman (Thames Valley) and Levi Franks (Canterbury), who also had four wins. Three pairs were deadlocked on three wins, but 2023 Plate winners John Christie (Thames Valley) and Nelson Morrow (Auckland) advanced based on strength of opponents.
The Doubles Plate final was played between Greg Bryant (Nelson) & Carolyn Fordyce (South Canterbury) and Callum Hyland (Australia) and Peter Filbee (South Taranaki). Both pairs had faced a tricky road to the final, but Callum Hyland and Peter Filbee edged the Plate, winning 15-14.
The knockouts were best of three games. Toby Garrison and Jarrod Coutts advanced to the final, conceding only 18 hoops in the semis, while Chris Shilling and Harps Tahurangi also won both matches in the semis. Chris and Harps took an early lead in the final, winning the first game 21-16. The second game was incredibly tight, Toby and Jarrod coming out on top 12-11. This meant Toby had to postpone his flight back to Wellington, with the decider starting late into Monday afternoon. Ultimately Toby Garrison and Jarrod Coutts prevailed 16-4 to win the NZ Open Doubles Championship, Toby’s fourth doubles title and Jarrod’s first. They were presented with the new Paul Skinley Trophies. Paddy Chapman and Levi Franks finished third.
The Singles Championship had 26 entrants, divided into four blocks, two of seven and two of six. The top four of each Block would advance to the knockouts.
Paddy Chapman dominated Block A, with six wins and five triple peels along the way. Harps Tahurangi finished second with five wins. John Versey (Hawkes Bay) and Levi Franks also advanced with four and three wins respectively.
Block B was more tightly contested as three players finished on five wins. Defending champion Logan McCorkindale (South Canterbury) had three triple peels and 99 net hoops to top the block, joined by James Galpin (England) and Peter Filbee. Reece McCorkindale (South Canterbury) also made it through to the knockouts with three wins.
In Block C, Joe Hogan (Hawkes Bay) proved he still has what it takes to compete against the best, topping the group with five wins out of five. John Christie, Dennis Bulloch (Manawatu-Wanganui) and Luke Rive (Auckland) all advanced too.
Finally, Chris Shilling just finished ahead of Jarrod Coutts in Block D, both with four wins. Callum Hyland and Bonnie Johnstone (South Taranaki) also advanced after some vital wins.
After some initial block play for the Plate, played at Cashmere, the top two players from both blocks advanced to a separate block to decide the two finalists. Carey Johnstone (South Taranaki) and Graeme Fisher (Wellington) both won their first games in the block for an early advantage, but Stefan Horrer (Wairarapa) would win his next two to join Carey in Saturday’s final.
In the first knockout round of the Championship, Luke Rive caused an early upset, beating Chris Shilling to make the quarters in his first NZ Open appearance. In the same round, Levi Franks caused the 25th biggest upset in world ranking history, beating Logan McCorkindale in their second game 23-20. However, Logan would advance to put Levi in the Bronze Medal running with Chris Shilling. In the other six matches, John Versey, Jarrod Coutts, Paddy Chapman, Callum Hyland and Harps Tahurangi all advanced in two straight games, with triple peels along the way from Paddy and Callum. Joe Hogan lost the first game to Bonnie Johnstone, but came back to win the next two and advance to the quarters.
Paddy and Logan, last year’s finalists, looked the players to beat in the quarters, both advancing and only conceding a combined 15 hoops. John Versey also advanced, but not before dropping a game to Luke Rive. Joe Hogan became the last semifinalist after a tough battle against Callum. The four eliminated quarter finalists entered a 5-8 knockout, with Harps and Callum advancing to Saturday’s playoff for 5th.
Meanwhile, in the Bronze Medal blocks, John Christie advanced to the final, beating Chris Shilling on net hoops, 10 to 2. Levi Franks continued to impress, beating James Galpin and Bonnie Johnstone to reach the Bronze Medal final.
In the Championship semis, Paddy Chapman produced a fine display for the live stream through Whakaata Māori on YouTube, beating John Versey 26-2, 26-0. Logan and Joe played their semi into the early evening, with Logan coming out on top with a triple peel in the second match. This set up five great matchups for Saturday at United.
The first result to be decided was the 3rd place playoff, which Joe Hogan won in an untimed match 26-12. Soon after that Harps Tahurangi won the 5th place playoff against Callum Hyland, 26-12, 26-14. In the Bronze Medal final, Levi Franks capped off an incredible week to beat John Christie 23-21, 26-17, no doubt bringing Levi’s handicap down significantly over the course of the tournament. Finally, Stefan Horrer finished on top in the Hennan Plate, his first piece of NZ Open silverware, beating Carey Johnstone 26-23, 26-17, with the two having faced each other four times in total during the tournament.
However, while these were happening, all eyes were on Paddy and Logan, who had dozens of spectators watching on the lawns and many more on the live stream. Logan took an early lead in tricky windy conditions, winning the first game 26-14 and barely putting a foot wrong. As the heat increased along with the lawn speed, Paddy won the second game with an audacious triple peel given the playing conditions. With minimal errors, Paddy had another incredible game, completing another triple peel to go 2-1 up. However, Logan bounced back in the 4th game 26-2, showing great composure despite both players having difficulty at hoop 3. This set up a dream decider.
The early stages of game 5 were incredibly tight, as both players made it to 4-back on their second breaks. Logan then had momentum to get his red ball to Peg and leave a diagonal spread. Paddy lifted his blue to A Baulk and missed the roquet. Logan underhit his croquet to 4-back, giving an inch for Paddy to get back in the game. Paddy made the roquet but missed the hoop shot with black on 4-back. Logan took advantage with a phenomenal rush to 4-back and some great shots on his way to the peg. This meant that Logan McCorkindale defended his NZ Open title, the first player since Greg Bryant in 2012 to do so. He also became only the 2nd player to win the GC Nationals and NZ Open in the same season, after Chris Clarke.
As part of prizegiving, Luke Rive won the Charles Jones Memorial Salver with the best showing from a 0+ player, while Paddy Chapman aptly won the inaugural Paddy Chapman Peeling Prize with 9 triple peels in the singles.
CNZ would like to thank all the volunteers, including managers, referees/umpires, streaming crew, caterers, supporters and the players for making this great event happen.