NZ Open beckons McCall

Vaughan McCall is one of four golfers named in the New Zealand Open amateur line-up. Photo supplied.
Vaughan McCall is one of four golfers named in the New Zealand Open amateur line-up. Photo supplied.
Four amateurs including Gore's Vaughan McCall have been named to contest the New Zealand Open Championship near Queenstown.

The other amateurs to earn their place at The Hills Golf Club and Millbrook Resort from February 27 to March 2 are Cameron Jones, of Muriwai, Kadin Neho, of Whangarei, and Jordan Golding, of Omanu.

They will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Australian Jake Higginbottom, who won the title in 2012 at Clearwater to be the first amateur winner of the event since 1956.

McCall, who won the New Zealand stroke play and the New Zealand amateur championship in 2012, earned his place in his second New Zealand Open after finishing as the leading player on the 2013 New Zealand Golf Order of Merit.

McCall (22), who plays out of the Gore Golf Club, is a born-and-bred southerner. He said playing the New Zealand Open so close to home would be a huge thrill.

''I can't lie - I'm absolutely stoked to have a start into the New Zealand Open.

''I have had so many people ask if I'll be playing and I know heaps of people who are keen to come and watch. It's a great chance for me to fly the Gore flag. I can't wait.''

North Harbour No 1 Jones secured his place in the New Zealand Open when he won the New Zealand stroke play championship at the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club for his breakthrough national win.

''It's a pretty special feeling getting to tee it up in my national open again,'' the 21-year-old said.

''It is especially special as I gained the exemption from winning the New Zealand stroke play and I feel like I have earned my spot in the field.

''I'm extremely excited and working really hard at the opportunity I have to compete with the pros. It will be a good test around two great courses with a really strong field.''

Joining Jones will be Northland No 1 Neho, who made history at Manawatu Golf Club when he became the first golfer from Northland to win the New Zealand amateur championship in 120 years.

''I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to play in the New Zealand Open. Who wouldn't be,'' the 18-year-old from Whangarei Golf Club said.

''It's going to be a huge tournament. This will be my first time playing the New Zealand Open and it's going to be an amazing experience.''

Golding secured his place in the elite company when he won the 76th New Zealand Maori Golf Championship in Taupo in 2013.

There was no New Zealand Open in 2013 due to tournament rescheduling so Golding qualifies for the Queenstown event.