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Tuesday, October 3, 2017
The New Zealand Women’s Open could
well move to February next year — but
only after organisers get the all-clear from
Heavy rain and gale-force winds sullied
the final round of this year’s Windross Farm
event, the first on New Zealand soil to be
sanctioned by the LPGA. Canadian Brooke
Henderson ultimately won by five strokes.
The LPGA, hoping to take advantage of
more pleasant Auckland conditions, would
like to couple the event with the Australian
Open in February.
Tournament director Michael Goldstein
admitted that was a possibility — but only
after he and the open’s organisers chat with
their locked-in sponsors. That would take
place over the next eight weeks.
“ From our perspective, it ’s a case of working
with all our stakeholders to understand
what ’s going to work for them,” Goldstein
said. “ We’ve got long-term contracts with
a lot of our partners. We’ll have the debrief
first and then see what happens. ”
As a result of Sunday ’s foul weather, the
open final round went into a fifth day, with
Henderson crowned champion yesterday
Some players were thought to be
disgruntled by the late scheduling change,
but Goldstein felt the LPGA’s decision to
play a full 72 holes had paid off. It maintained
the integrity of the tournament, he said.
“Hopefully what we’ve done over the past
24 hours really displays our attitude to the
event: we want it to be here a long time,”
Goldstein said. “ We needed to do what
we needed to do to show this was a huge
championship for New Zealand — we
wanted it to finish in the right way.”
Goldstein also admitted that prolonging
the tournament by a day would affect the
open’s bottom line, but not to an enormous
extent. — NZ N
New Zealand Women’s Open champion
Brooke Henderson has credited older sister
and caddy Brittany for guiding her through
what she openly describes as the worst
golfing conditions of her career to date.
The 20-year-old Henderson hit a fourth-
round three-under par 69 on Sunday and
yesterday, coasting to the title at Windross
Farm by five strokes.
Yet the Canadian’s victory march
was heavily delayed by atrocious south
Auckland conditions, with heavy rain and
strong winds a final-round constant.
Organisers of the open — the first
event to be sanctioned by the LPGA on
New Zealand soil — were forced to send
proceedings into a fifth day due to the
rainfall. And while the heavens opened
early yesterday and the winds constantly
raged, conditions eventually cleared for
Henderson to cruise home. She secured an
overall score of 17-under.
In what was her fifth LPGA tour title,
Henderson lauded her sister’s expertise and
thanked her for providing advice on how to
combat the gusty weather.
With a solid lead on the final stretch, only
a disastrous collapse could have prevented
Henderson from securing the title — which
Brittany helped ward off.
“I really depended on her, she did
awesome — which way the wind was going,
where I should aim, how much to play
through the wind,” Henderson said.
“S he came through under pressure. That ’s
probably the worst I’ve played in, the last
two days, between the wind and the rain
and all the different delays, how long it took
to play 18 holes.” Henderson was five shots
ahead of Yan Jing in second and six ahead
of Park Hee Young in third, while main
contender Belen Mozo fell away. Lydia Ko
finished in a tie for 22nd place.
Mozo went into freefall from the first
moment of Sunday ’s play, going from the
top of the leaderboard to equal fifth, while
Henderson was clinical.
She scored just two final-round bogeys
in the horrendous conditions and
compensated for her mistakes with five
birdies, including on the final hole.
Earlier in the open, she ably kept
herself in the hunt. She hit a first-round
seven-under par 65, before a subsequent
two-under par 70 in Friday ’s second round
and five-under par 67 in the third round.
“This is so amazing, to get my first win
outside of North America, my fifth win on
the tour — it’s really incredible, a dream
come true,” Henderson said.
“It gives me confidence going for ward, the
British Open and stuff like that, knowing I
can play well on links courses, especially in
Henderson has won $195,000 in
prizemoney. — NZ N
NZ WOMEN’S OPEN
Sister guides Henderson home
PICTURE: Getty Images
Brooke Henderson with the New Zealand Women’s Open trophy at Windross Farm in
Organisers mull date change
tough path to
Melbourne will have to weather one of the
biggest post-premiership storms if they want
to become the first side to claim back-to-
back NRL titles in 25 years.
Four members of Craig Bellamy’s
premiership-winning side played their last
game for the club in Sunday’s 34-6 flogging
of North Queensland, headlined by Sydney-
bound Cooper Cronk.
Kiwi international Tohu Harris will head
to the Warriors, NSW State of Origin 18th
man Jordan McLean moves north to the
Cowboys and bench hooker Slade Griffin is
expected to join Newcastle.
The quartet is the most of any premiership
side since Melbourne’s four lesser-known
departees after their 2012 success, while
champion fullback Billy Slater’s future
remains up in the air.
The losses also come after the Storm
farewelled four players from last year’s grand
final side — including Kevin Proctor and
Marika Koroibete — meaning almost half of
their top team from the past two years have
now left the club.
“I don’t think that ’s happened to any club
who has been in grand finals in consecutive
years or been in grand finals two out of three
years or two out of four years,” Bellamy said.
“ To lose eight players in two years out of
grand final sides, that ’s not ideal. But that ’s
just the way it is. ”
No team has
premierships in a unified competition since
Brisbane in 1992 and 1993.
While the question gets asked every year of
the NRL champions, surely no team is more
likely to break that streak than Melbourne.
The Storm have now played in seven of the
past 12 deciders, for two premierships and
have had another two stripped due to salary
cap breaches. Their salary-cap destroyed
season of 2010 is the only time they have
missed the finals since Bellamy arrived in
Their 2017 premiership was also the most
dominant of the NRL-era, with the club
claiming 20 victories in the regular season
and finishing three wins above their nearest
competitor before sweeping the finals series.
As Bellamy signed off from his final
post-match press conference of the year, he
sounded the most ominous warning to the
“The one thing I can guarantee is we will
enjoy this for a little while and they ’ll get the
break they deser ve, but when they do come
back it will be back into work again.”
In 2007 Melbourne won the minor
premiership with 21 wins for the season and
went on to beat Manly in the grand final.
The 2007 team also included the big three
of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy
Slater, who were instrumental in this year’s
victory, as well as Wallabies fullback Israel
Folau and Souths captain Greg Inglis.
The key distinction was that the side was
stripped of their title three years after the
event for systematic salary cap breaches by
Storm administrators, which Bellamy and his
players knew nothing about.
That aside Bellamy said the teams a decade
apart were equally as good after winning both
the minor premiership and grand final.
“They ’re the best two teams but I’m not too
sure which is the best,” Bellamy said.
“The funny thing is that we came off losing
a grand final the year before (in both) so
there’s a heap of similarities but to make a
call between those two sides would be too
Storm lost to Brisbane in 2006 and to
Cronulla in 2016.
The Storm is eager to extend Bellamy ’s
contract beyond 2018 but the coach said he
was not in any rush. He also believed Billy
Slater would play on. With so many young
players in the current side Bellamy had
confidence in the team’s future.
“The big three are going to be replaced
and we face the first one out next year with
Cooper not being there, but we’ll have Brodie
Croft come in and he’ll keep improving his
game,” Bellamy said.
“ Hopefully when it ’s time for the other
players (Slater and Smith) to leave we’ll have
others come in and do the same”.
Storm centre Curtis Scott says he owes
his premiership ring to Cooper Cronk
after a family dinner invite helped keep the
teenager’s NRL career on track.
Scott is seen as one of the up-and-coming
stars of the Storm’s next generation.
The 19-year-old scored a try in Sunday ’s
final in what was easily the biggest match
of the former Australian Schoolboys
After he broke his leg last year and
found himself struggling after moving to
Melbourne from Sydney at age 18, Scott said
it was Cronk that reached out to him to make
a significant difference in his life.
Even the chant of “one more year” by more
than 1000 adoring Storm fans at Melbourne’s
Federation Square was not enough to get
new dual premiership winner Billy Slater to
declare he will play on in 2018.
Slater and the Storm players were given
a heroes’ welcome home after demolishing
North Queensland 34-6 to win the NRL
grand final in Sydney.
The biggest cheers were reser ved for skipper
Cameron Smith as he held the Provan-
Summons trophy aloft, Cooper Cronk, who
played his last game for the club in Sunday’s
grand final, and for Clive Churchill Medal
The award capped an incredible comeback
after two shoulder reconstructions by Slater,
who is still to decide on whether to retire
after 299 games.
“I ’m just going to enjoy today,” Slater said
when asked about his future. “It’s pretty
special to turn up here and see so many
people and so much support. ”
Cronk also avoided answering a question
on whether he will continue his NRL
career after moving to Sydney to be with his
Many of the Storm players donned
sunglasses following celebrations that went
all night in Sydney.
They stayed in the change-rooms at ANZ
Stadium until 3am before continuing the
party at their team hotel.
The heavyweight trophy had already hit
the deck thanks to five-eighth Cameron
Munster, in probably the only thing he
dropped all night, but it remained in good
Coach Craig Bellamy said he felt he was in
a “purple haze”.
“Its a good crowd and we had a good crowd
there last night — probably the biggest group
of Melbourne fans we’ve had at a grand final
I’ve been at,” Bellamy said.
“ To turn up here to today is just great and
we’re really appreciative of all the support. ”
Purple haze welcomes Storm home
PICTURE: Getty Images
Storm captain Cameron Smith leads former Coaster Slade Griffin (behind) and fellow team-mates on to Federation Square to
celebrate their NRL grand final win, in Melbourne yesterday.
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