2020 Openshaw Shield
WCF Golf Croquet World Team Championship, Tier 1
January 6–12, Nelson, NZ
For complete scores see the croquetscores.com listing for the tournament.
For more photos see the photo gallery.
KIWI YOUTH BRIGADE RETAINS OPENSHAW SHIELD
The third Openshaw Shield featured the usual finalists: Egypt v. New Zealand. Tied 4-all going into the final singles round, the Kiwis found a higher gear to win three matches in succession, clinching the test match by final score of 7-4 with two matches remaining unfinished.
Fittingly, Edmund Fordyce scored the decisive win. The day before he had beaten Hamy Erian (third-place finisher at the 2019 world championship) 7-4, 7-4. Fordyce started the final day by beating world #1 Amr El Ebiary 7-3, 7-5. He capped off the week with a 7-2, 7-2 win against another recent world #1 (and 2019 silver medalist), Mohamed Karem. Fordyce was already a player of note, twice winner of the NZ GC Open, and 2019 Under-21 world champion, consistently ranked in the world top ten. In this high-pressure test match he didn’t merely beat three of the world’s very best players, he made it look easy.
Both teams were remarkably youthful. The average age of the four Egyptian starters was around 30. 30 was also the age of New Zealand’s oldest player, Duncan Dixon, whom his teammates jokingly called “granddad”; the next-oldest player in the NZ lineup was Josh Freeth, aged 23. Team captain Felix Webby was a couple of years younger still, and Fordyce was just 19. All four of the Kiwis have been Under-21 world champions.
Team USA included an actual granddad, Danny Huneycutt. He won all three of his singles matches in the NZ vs. USA semi-final, bringing his team to within a single match of beating the Kiwis. This included a win against the mighty Fordyce, aided by a bouncing jump shot in game 3. While the Americans had to settle for a fourth-place finish, they can take pride in having pushed the eventual champions to the limit.
They also ensured that USA will compete in the top tier at the next Openshaw Shield, in 2024. The Openshaw Shield is Tier 1 of a larger World Team Championship, which includes Tier 2 and Tier 3 tournaments. Eight countries contest the Openshaw Shield, and the last-place finisher is automatically relegated to Tier 2, while the Tier 2 winner is promoted to Tier 1. Among other advantages, this ensures that the Shield remains a competitive event for all countries thoughout the entire week. Tier 2 will be contested in Spain later this year, and the Spaniards, three of whom made a strong showing at the recent singles World Championship, are heavy favorites to win and take the place of the relegated Swedes in Tier 1.