Former Auckland representative Karen de Jongh rounded out a commanding performance at the Taranaki Women’s Open Fours, skipping a Waikato composite to victory opposite a strong challenge from local hopes Kristin Stampa and her Hawera Park contingent in an entertaining final.
Now in its 67th year, the event has long been a drawcard for top level bowlers to try their hand at the once traditional 25-end format, with teams travelling from throughout New Zealand to compete in the action.
This year’s edition attracted 48 entries, with teams split into four sections to play six qualifying games. Host greens included West End, Vogeltown, New Plymouth and the event headquarters, Paritutu.
Following the three days of section play, only 18 teams remained in contention, with the successful quartets notching up the required four wins to progress.
By the penultimate day, the event’s finalists had been found with Stampa’s side of Ella Smailes, Irene Waller and Pauline Kennedy dispatching West End’s Jan Johnson, 30-17 in one semi-final, while de Jongh and her fellow Waikato side of recently crowned National Singles champion Debbie White, Sue Broadbent and Carol Cox defeated the formidable home side skipped by Paritutu icon Heather Johns, 27-17.
The final saw a de Jongh masterclass as she consistently did the damage end after end. At the midway point, de Jongh’s four had stretched out to a comfortable 21-7 lead, though not prepared to go down without a fight, Stampa’s side dug deep to score 11 unanswered points over the next five ends to move within three points of their opposition.
However, a crucial loss of four shots on the 19th end firmly swung the momentum back in favour of de Jongh and from that point, the remaining few ends proved purely a training run as the Waikato composite closed out the game and the title rights, 30-20.
The victory for de Jongh, White, Broadbent and Cox marked the first Waikato team to lift the trophy since 1986, when the iconic Rhoda Ryan secured the Open alongside the legendary Elsie Wilkie.
Beaten quarter-finalists include Glenfield’s Denise Samuel, Omarunui’s Robyn Wallace, Waitara’s Liz Johnstone and Lepperton’s Pauline Davy – Davy a key member of the recently crowned Tauranga Combined Fours’ champion side.
The event concluded with presentations and closed out an action-packed fortnight in the Taranaki province, with both the Men’s and Women’s Open campaigns settled for another year.
Roll on 2020.