Aussies confident in Trans Tasman lead-up

Australia will be hoping their dominance continues when they take on New Zealand in the Trans Tasman Cup next month.

A win will make it five in a row and they have every chance, bolstered by the home ground advantage of playing at the testing Peninsula North Course in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula region.

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Mastering the often-changing weather and winds will be critical but it’s a course the local young guns know well.

Peninsula is home to many Golf Australia squad training sessions so expectations are high for a local victory.

And while the weather is often a tricky component to manage, Golf Australia’s Brad James says the Kiwis may find other aspects of the course just as challenging.

“I think probably the advantage is just the general sandbelt type courses being very firm greens, very firm tight surroundings, different types of shots that you use for different grasses,” he said.

“I think that is probably more of an advantage than dealing with the wind and the conditions, more so the grass type and the conditions of the golf course itself.”

The last event was contested in 2010 at the Royal Wellington Golf Club and Australia ran out easy victors, 31 points to 17, however there was one blemish.

The tournament comprises four categories of four players each. While Australia comfortably won both the Open Men’s and Women’s category and junior boys category, the Australian junior girls came up against some of the world’s best junior girls.

The team of Ashley Ona, Bree Elliot, Emma Ash and Christina Mew battled bravely against the formidable duo of Lydia Ko and Cecilia Cho, currently the world’s top two women amateurs but lost their duel 7 ½ to 4 ½.

While the pair is definitely strong, James, Golf Australia’s High Performance Director, expects Australia will again prevail.

“Obviously with the type of players that we put on the field I am very confident,” he said.

“Anytime you are competing against the Kiwis in any sport you want to try and beat them, because obviously with that rivalry that we have with New Zealand.”

While some of Australia’s senior players will benefit from the international tournament, James says it is the younger members who will possibly learn the most.

“I would say primarily at the younger level it is really their first experience at international competition and putting the Australian jersey on,” he said.

“I think that sort of experience is vital for their development. From the older kids perspective a lot of them have already travelled the world and competed overseas so they have had a little bit more of international competition.”

The Trans Tasman Cup tees off on March 8 and comprises four categories, Senior and Junior Boys and Senior and Junior Girls.

Each player contests singles and foursomes match play over two rounds.

The Australians will be vying to win their fifth title in a row and James believes his charges will be able to stand up to the pressure of maintaining the winning edge.

“You will feel some different pressures that you necessarily don’t feel when you are competing for yourself,” James said.

“But we have a very strong line up.”