Early bird catches the sporting action

By: Blogger

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

One had to be an early bird to keep up with the sporting action over the weekend.

While most eyes were on the Mighty All Blacks and the New Zealand Warriors, an unheralded team of kiwi golfers were right in contention to lift one of amateur golf’s international prizes in Dublin, Ireland.

Daniel Hillier, Denzel Ieremia and Kerry Mountcastle went extremely close to becoming the second New Zealand side to lift the Eisenhower Trophy aloft in victory.

After leading the international team’s competition throughout the first three days, the kiwis faded a little in the last round to finish in fourth place, just four shots of the eventual winners in Denmark.

The Eisenhower Trophy, named after a former United States President in Dwight D Eisenhower, has been contested by the teams of the best amateurs in the world, every two years since 1958.

During 1992, Michael Campbell, Stephen Scahill, Grant Moorhead and Phillip Tataurangi won the Eisenhower Trophy, coming from two shot deficit on the last day to defeat the USA and claim the world golf prize.

New Zealand has a proud record in Eisenhower competition, with the weekends fourth place finish adding to a win, two seconds and a third, which sees our country sitting in a highly creditable eighth on the all-time list.

New Zealand sent a formable band of golfing warriors to the 2018 edition of the Eisenhower Trophy.

Daniel Hillier is ranked 25th in the world amateur rankings, with Denzel Ieremia experiencing the rough and tumble of American College golf on an Iowa State scholarship.

Kerry Mountcastle annexed our own Carrus Open (Professional) golf tournament last April, to grab the rare honor of winning a professional tournament while still in the amateur ranks.

While the latest kiwi trio to excel on the world golf stage have it all in front of them - all four members of the 1992 side went on to sterling professional careers.

Michael Campbell will always be remembered for becoming just the second New Zealand golfer, after Bob Charles (1963 British Open) to win a golf major when he annexed the 2005 US Masters.

Another Michael Campbell major golfing achievement in the same year, which seems to have slipped into the history books with little trace, was Campbell winning the World Match-Play championship with a million dollar stake to the winner.

The ex Titahi Bay Golf Club member, became just the fourth player to win both the US Masters and World Match Play title in the same year.

Sir Bob Charles and Michael Campbell, are members of a small illustrious kiwi group of players, who have won a title on the United States PGA tour.

They are joined by John Lister (1976) Grant Waite (1993) Frank Nobilo (1997) Phillip Tataurangi (2002) Craig Perks (2002) and Danny Lee (2015) to taste success on the highly lucrative US PGA circuit.

Perks victory was especially memorable, when he beat the best golfers in the world to win the Players Championship, which is often unofficially referred to as the fifth Masters.

Only time will tell if the 2018 amateur stars that nearly pulled off an Eisenhower victory, will reach the same heights as their 1992 predecessors.