Congratulations to Scott Hellier on winning the Otago Matchplay Championship defeated Liam Balneaves 2/1 at Balmacewen on Monday 23rd October

Scott Hellier (Gore) brought to an end the charmed life of Liam Balneaves (Greenacres) at Balmacewen yesterday by coming from behind to win the Otago Matchplay Championship final 2 and 1.

Balneaves claimed the title in 2005 and 2010 and has always played well at Balmacewen where he holds the course record of 62.

The front nine of the morning semifinals laid the foundation for an all-Southland final with both southerners carding a plethora of birdies.

In the final, Balneaves took an early lead, winning the first hole with a gimme birdie four.

The pair halved the next six holes until Balneaves won the seventh and eighth holes to increase his lead to three.

Hellier birdied the 10th, won the 12th with a par and squared the match on the long Tipperary 13th hole.

Hellier took the lead for the first time birdieing the 14th and sank a 3m birdie putt on the 17th green to close out the match.

Balneaves has a liking for the Balmacewen layout after setting the course record at nine-under-par 62 six years ago. He continued his romance with the course by winning the Ritchie Cup after finishing top qualifier.

The top Southland trio dominated Saturday’s qualifying, with Hellier finishing second and Tautari fourth. It was only Millbrook’s Fraser MacLachlan who prevented a Southland trifecta when he came in third on 147.

Top qualifier Balneaves had a golden day, beating Will Young (Otago) in the morning 7 and 6 with the help of an eagle 2 on the third and a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th.