SOL23: New Caledonia and PNG enjoy good starts in golf

Golf began in perfect conditions on Wednesday. Photos: Pacific Games News Service.

The Honiara Golf Club (HGC) launched the Sol2023 Pacific Games Golf championship on Wednesday, marking the commencement of four days of spirited competition, with representation from 10 countries in pursuit of this year’s top prize.

In the men’s individual round, reigning Pacific Games champion, New Caledonia’s Guillaume Castagne, continued his dominance in securing the day’s lowest score of 67 (+1), followed by Morgan Annato of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with 70 (+1) and Robert Iene of Samoa with 73 (+1).

The three-lead round one of competition features a total 38 participants from New Caledonia, PNG, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Solomon Islands.

“Today, I played a couple of good shots, hit the ball well, landed on some greens, and made some putts. Although I rushed myself at some points, I managed to finish with a score of 70, including another bogey,” Annato told the Pacific Games News Service.

“I believe I could have performed better if not for some minor mistakes, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow for another good result.”

PNG coach Kim Baldwin commended his team, emphasising the importance of emotional control on the course.

“The only challenge for them is to control their emotions. Playing golf requires focus; otherwise, mistakes can happen. Stay focused and hit the course.”

Benjamin Jones Jr from Northern Mariana Islands found the game enjoyable despite not achieving his best score. Expressing optimism about the days ahead, he said: “I got rid of all the nerves today, and I think I’ll do better tomorrow. It’s my first time playing golf, especially representing my country. I’m happy to prove myself.”

The women’s individual round featured a total of 30 golfers from nine participating countries. Alexis Vakasiuola of Tonga leads with a total score of 73 (+1), followed by Tahiti’s Kirra St Laurent and Margaret Lavaki of PNG, both on 76 (+1), followed by New Caledonia’s Mohea Mansbendel on 77 (+1).

The men’s team event leaderboard from day one is as follows:

  1. New Caledonia = 215
  2. PNG = 220
  3. Samoa = 228
  4. Fiji = 234
  5. Northern Mariana Islands = 240
  6. Cook Islands = 241
  7. Solomon Islands = 243
  8. Tahiti = 245
  9. Tonga = 246

The women’s team event leaderboard on day one stands as:

  1. PNG = 236
  2. New Caledonia = 240
  3. Samoa = 241
  4. Cook Islands = 247
  5. Tonga = 247
  6. Tahiti = 249
  7. Solomon Islands = 250

Competitions continue on Thursday, and entry is free.

By Francis Pituvaka and Lynnissha B. Runa, Pacific Games News Service