The 2018 NZ Stroke Play championships may have been headlined by defending champion Mark Hutson and the top amateur at this year's NZ Open, Daniel Hillier, but it was Wellington's Kerry Mountcastle and Canterbury's Juliana Hung who claimed the titles.
The rain may have had an impact on the championship reducing it from 72 to 54 holes but it didn't prevent some of the country's top emerging talent from playing some great golf.
Two Southerners, Hiroki Miya (Russley) and Fraser MacLachlan (Millbrook Resort & Country club) led the men's field on five-under (66) at the end of the opening rounds. Juliana Hung (Russley) showed everyone how good her short game is to lead the women's field with a six under 68 (Par 74) heading into the second day.
Day 2 of the three round tournament saw an outstanding performance from Kerry Mountcastle (Masterton) to equal the course record of 9 under (62). Starting on the 10th hole Mountcastle had 1 eagle and 7 birdies to put him well ahead of the rest of the field.
“I got off to a decent start after making birdies on 11, 12 then 13 and managed to hole a couple of putts which was nice,” said Mountcastle.
In the women's field Hung was joined by Auckland's Carmen Lim at eight under par to set up an interesting challenge between the two for the final day.
Starting the final day with a seven-stroke lead Mountcastle continued to play consistent golf and finish with an eight shot lead from a final round of one over (72). His 201 total for the three rounds saw him receive the St Andrews Salver, the first time it has returned to the Wellington region since James Betts won 10 years ago.
“It's amazing to play a tournament like this in your home region and get the win. It's just awesome,” said Mountcastle.
In the women's event Hung's even par final round saw her hold on for a wire-to-wire win and her maiden women's NZ Stroke Play title. With only three holes to play she held a seven-shot lead but with scores she will want to forget on the final two holes saw that lead taken back to two shots by Miree Jung (Titirangi) who birdied the last two holes for a final round of four-under 74.
“It definitely feels pretty good, I'm so happy that I won after playing solid all week and it's easily the biggest win of my career,” grinned Hung.