2019 GC World Championship Wrap-up

The 2019 Golf Croquet World Championship has just concluded in Sussex, England, with New Zealand players once again proving they are some of the best in the World.

The World Championship saw 80 players from 19 countries vie for the title as the 2019 Golf Croquet World Champion.

The New Zealand players competing included Brian Bullen (Wellington), George Coulter (Bay of Plenty), Duncan Dixon (Canterbury), Josh Freeth (Auckland), Hamish McIntosh (Auckland) and Helen Reeves (Hawkes Bay) who earned her place in the Championships through the qualifying tournament held a week earlier.

During the block stages, the New Zealand players performed admirably with 4 of the 6 players qualifying for the knock-out stage.  Some of the notable performances during the early stages included Dixon qualify top of Block E undefeated and Freeth defeating world number 1 and defending champion, Reg Bamford (South Africa), 3-7, 7-3, 7-2 in their match.  Dixon, Freeth and McIntosh all qualified outright for the Knock-out stage.  Coulter later joined them in the last 32 after defeating Ian Burridge of Wales 7-4 in a play-off game after they, and Fathy Farouk of Egypt, all ended block play with 6 wins each.

As with most sports, anything can happen once you reach knock-out stage, and upsets were on the cards in round one.  Four previous champions, including the defending champion, fell in the first round which included Freeth beating Mohamed Nasr (Egypt).  Dixon and McIntosh both enjoyed victories in round 1 to join Freeth in the second round.  Dixon’s unbeaten run at the tournament ended when he fell to Englishman Richard Bilton 4-7, 7-3, 3-7.  McIntosh also fell in the second round to eventual semi-finalist and world number 3, Hamy Erian (Egypt), 4-7, 4-7.  Freeth, however, continued his fine form defeating Khaled Tharwat of Egypt 7-5, 7-6, to set up a quarter-final with world number 4, Stephen Mulliner (England).  Freeth showed his class and advanced to the semi-finals with a straight games win over Mulliner 7-3, 7-5, 7-5.  After starting strong and taking a 2-game lead in the best of 5 semi-final, Freeth’s magical run came to an end.  Losing the final three games to lose the eventual champion, Ben Rothman (USA), 7-2, 7-3, 3-7, 5-7, 5-7.

Coulter went on to win the Bowl while Dixon won the Shield event.

This all followed the U21 World Championships which were held a week earlier in Nottingham.  Here, New Zealand continued their dominance of U21 Golf Croquet with Edmund Fordyce (South Canterbury) claiming the title over Englishman, James Galpin, 4-7, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, 7-5.  Fordyce became the fourth New Zealander to win the title.

These results set New Zealand up nicely to defend their GC World Teams Championship title which will be held in Nelson from 6th January 2020.