Tauranga South Women’s Pairs

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Sue Hodges has been involved in bowls for more than 25 years but admits the climax to the 2021 Tauranga South Women’s Pairs was one of her more unusual moments in the sport.
Across her long and storied career Hodges has managed many notable achievements, including wins and appearances in national finals and being named player of the year in both Dunedin and Bay of Plenty.
She is no stranger to success, but her victory at the recent Tauranga pairs event came in strange circumstances.
Hodges was involved in a marathon game of cards on the final morning, when someone tapped her on the shoulder to tell her she had won the tournament.
“I had no idea, until they announced it,” said Hodges. “I never look at a draw, I don’t examine the results. It doesn’t mean anything…all that matters is how you finish.”
Hodges and partner Caitlin Thomson had arrived on the Sunday morning at 7:45am, ready for the section play in the 28-team event.
But the greens were flooded, after heavy overnight rain, so the duo settled in to watch and wait. Hodges renewed acquaintances with old friends and previous rivals, before somebody produced a pack of cards.
“We were playing Euchre for about an hour and a half, until the tournament was eventually called off at 10am,” said Hodges. “Then they started to read out the placings, and we got the good news. It was nice for us, but really unfortunate for the tournament.”
Based on the three qualifying rounds completed the day before, Hodges and Thompson were top of the pile, with three wins and a superior points differential.
Hodges was playing the event for the sixth time. She describes it as one of the best in the country, both on and off the green.
“The quality of the players is always really high and people come from all across the North Island,” said Hodges. “And the hospitality is wonderful – everything is provided, and it is a true weekend away for some players.”
Ahead of this year’s tournament Hodges decided to pair up with Thomson, playing a mentor role for the third-year bowler.
“She is a promising player, very strong mentally,” says Hodges. “This tournament was all very new for Caitlin. I told her to treat it like just another game and be confident you can beat anyone.”
Despite two close games, the pair ended with a 100 per cent record after the first day.
“It went well,” said Hodges. “We combined well and I guess we were relieved we had qualified, from a tough field.”
The inclement weather meant the new partnership didn’t get a chance to show their wares on the Sunday, though Hodges hopes they can play together again and has already pencilled in next year’s event.
Organiser Judith Payne was thrilled with the field that had been attracted for the ninth edition of the tournament, with teams from Northland to Napier.
“We had current and former Blackjacks and centre title winners,” says Payne. “It was set up really well but unfortunately the weather was awful. It’s not something you can plan for.”
Eight teams still went away with prizemoney – including six from out of town – drawn from the generous support of sponsors, among them MetLife Care Greenwood Park and Bowls New Zealand. Payne was also grateful for the hard work and effort from club members and volunteers.