Winter claims double at South Island GC Championship

Josh Winter (Canterbury) won his maiden South Island GC Championship title, and won the doubles too alongside fellow Cantabrian Levi Franks at the Waireka club in Ashburton.

This was the first playing of the Championships since 2021, in what is now a bi-annual event. The Championships were played from 22-25 February.

The tournament started with doubles block, and best of two games played between the six pairs for five rounds. On Friday morning, stock was taken of the situation and it was decided that each pair would play all the others in one match for a total of three games across the board.

The three Canterbury based pairs of Patrick Conolly & James Duggan, Levi Franks & Josh Winter, and Gaylene Jones & John Borner all got off to great starts on Thursday, winning the bulk of their games. However, going into Friday’s final 5 rounds, it was Franks and Winter who were the ones to catch, having yet to lose a game, and only having conceded 31 hoops in ten games.

Levi and Josh would only lose one game on their way to the South Island GC Doubles title, to second placed Gaylene Jones & John Borner. Don Reyland Stars champion Patrick Conolly and partner James Duggan finished third.

The singles had 16 entrants, separated into two blocks with the top four from each advancing to quarter final knockouts.

Levi Franks flew through Block A, winning all seven games with an impressive 29 hoops. James Duggan, Michael Lauer (Nelson) and Patrick Conolly all also advanced, with Diane Verdonk (South Canterbury) just missing out on net hoops. In Block B, Josh Winter and John Borner continued their doubles form with six wins each. Paul Kaiser (Canterbury) and Sue Cleveland (South Canterbury) also advanced to the knockouts.

The bottom four from each block went into a Consolation block. Kevin Freeth (Marlborough) claimed 9th place, just ahead of David Galvin (South Canterbury) both with six wins but Kevin with one extra net hoop.

In the quarter finals, Levi Franks, Josh Winter and John Borner all advanced in straight games out of the best of three format. James Duggan beat Paul Kaiser 7-4 in the third deciding game to make the semis. Josh Winter continued his great form, advancing to the final in two games. John Borner produced an upset based on rankings, winning the deciding third game against Levi Franks 7-5.

In the final John took the early advantage, winning the first game 7-3, which was Josh’s second game loss in the singles draw (his first also being against John in the block). Josh bounced back though, winning the next two 7-4, 7-5 to claim the Timaru CC Trophy for the first time. John Borner, a former St Martins player who now plays at Cashmere, finished second, capping off an impressive Championship. Levi Franks finished third ahead of James Duggan.