Brilliant golf blitz delivers outstanding scores

Winning group (from left): Joshua Bai (2nd), Jang Hyun Lee (winner of Tom Bonnington Cup), Scott Wightman (3rd), Men’s Club Captain Barry Brennan

Winning group (from left): Joshua Bai (2nd), Jang Hyun Lee (winner of Tom Bonnington Cup), Scott Wightman (3rd), Men’s Club Captain Barry Brennan

Mangawhai's annual Tom Bonnington Cup for elite men golfers this year attracted a field of outstanding calibre. With nearly half the field holding handicaps of scratch or better, and the course being presented in brilliant condition, meant that scoring was likely to be exceptional. And so it proved, with stand-out performances from young Jang Hyun Lee (Titirangi) and Joshua Bai (Akarana) alongside Mangawhai's own Scott Wightman over the two rounds.

Jang Hyun Lee tees of at start of second round

Jang Hyun Lee tees of at start of second round

On Saturday May 25, Lee shot an exceptional 65 opening round (7 under par) to equal the Blue Championship Tees course record, while 13-year-old Bai scored an impressive 67. Wightman's 70 kept him in touch with the two leaders, setting up a close contest on Sunday. Saturday was warm and sunny with no wind while Sunday brought some overhead cloud and a little easterly breeze to test the golfers.

The three leaders, along with Kit Bittle (Gulf Harbour), were in the final playing group and there was a lot of interest among the many spectators as they teed off on Sunday morning. The opportunity was there for Wightman's experience and local course knowledge to perhaps put pressure on the two younger players but they held their nerve superbly in the face of Wightman's impressive 68 second round. Lee's final round was a 69 to go with his 65 and this saw him finish three ahead of Bai (a final round of 70) and four ahead of Wightman. (Wightman, still considered a youngster by most Mangawhai members, was in the unusual position of playing with two players, Lee and Bai, whose combined ages totalled less than his own.)

In the Nett section, Lee Newman (Mangawhai) recorded nett rounds of 67 and 73 to head off Zane Hinton (Mangawhai) by one shot.

In all, some 64 players were entered in the Blue Tee division, coming from 27 different clubs as far north as Carrington and as south as Palmerston North. The entries reflected the status of “The Bonnington”, a New Zealand Golf Order of Merit tournament and a representative trial for Northland and North Harbour players.

Men’s Club Captain Barry Brennan commented: “It's a brilliant line-up and to see the course record equalled really made the weekend for us. We enjoy this opportunity to showcase our course and it's rewarding to see so many top players stepping up to the challenge. Having just won the Nobilo Championship Pennants title it gave us a chance to see some of our Pennants players in action against the best, and they did themselves proud.”

In all, nine of the players shot below par for the two rounds, showcasing both their golfing skills and the course's fine presentation.

A White Tee Division was also played over the two days and the Nett prize was taken out by Ryan Xie (Maungakiekie) with a score of 76-64-140, beating local identity BK Kim on a countback, just one shot clear of BK's son Phillip. The Stableford prize was won by local Larry Renner (75 points) ahead of club President Tony Vale (72 points).

A common talking point amongst the players was the outstanding quality of the putting surfaces. Running quick and true they rewarded good touch – and the players who had the skill to keep their approach shots below the hole. Overall, the course was well presented, always ready to show its teeth to those who thought they had the power game to conquer. Mangawhai is not the longest course but it demands skill and placement at all times, with every hole offering a special challenge to even the very best of players.

Prizegiving was held in a packed clubhouse where Tournament Director Wayne Watts thanked the sponsors, The Clubroom and Frucor, for their contributions to the success of the tournament. As always at Mangawhai, an outstanding team of volunteers put in many hours work to cover every detail and make the event a highly enjoyable one for all players. A very impressive prize table for all sections capped a weekend where, once again, Mangawhai lived up to its “unbeatable” reputation.

Joshua Bai chips on, watched by Scott Wightman

Joshua Bai chips on, watched by Scott Wightman


Blue Tees Gross – Jang Hyun Lee (65-69-134); Joshua Bai (67-70-137); Scott Wightman (70-68-138); Dale Clarke (Sherwood Park, 71-69-140); Luke Brown (The Pines, 72-70-142); Tyler Wood (Mangawhai, 71-71-142); Richard Squire (Mangawhai, 71,71); Kit Bittle (Gulf Harbour, 70-72-142); James Hydes (Gulf Harbour, 70-72-142).

Nett – Lee Newman (67-73-140); Zane Hinton (69-72-141); Jay Law (72-74-145).

White Tees Nett – Ryan Xie (76-64-140); BK Kim (74-66-140); Phillip Kim (73-68-141), Shel Lloydd (Mangawhai, 74-68-142).

Stableford – Larry Renner (40-35-75); Tony Vale (31-41-72).