NZ Open slot for last man standing

Spoils of victory: Shootout winner Peter Devine, right, with organiser Chris James

It was golfing’s version of Ten Green Bottles at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort last Sunday.

Eleven Millbrook Country Club members joined a nerve-racking nine-hole shootout to decide who’d fill an amateur spot in the pro-am being played alongside the 100th New Zealand Open, starting February 28 at Millbrook and The Hills nearby.

Two players were eliminated at Coronet Nine’s first hole, then one thereafter till Peter Devine and Barry Litten squared off on the ninth.

At both the seventh and eighth holes, Devine had won putting playoffs against, respectively, Jason Waterhouse and Nicki McQuilkin.

The ninth hole was then squared after Litten, who was giving Devine a shot due to their handicap difference, rolled in a long putt.

An elated Devine then won when Litten conceded after hitting his ball in the water when the hole was replayed.

“I normally play like a donkey, but I played really well,” he said afterwards.

“I had a shot [on Litten] so I was lucky from that perspective.”

His first thought after claiming the members’ slot – worth $10,000 – was that he’d have to postpone a knee operation, due this week, to ensure he makes the tourna-ment.

Organiser Chris James, who calls Devine “a bit of a Houdini” for winning both putting playoffs, says both he and Litten played very well, “so we’ll have a very good champion we can put through to the NZ Open”.

Millbrook golf operations manager Peter Smith says the shootout “puts the normal golfer in a situation where it really is meaningful”.

“They all wanted to win so badly – you could see how it affected them at various stages.”

Devine also won a Rockburn Wines magnum for his troubles.