Collins Maps will
tell you that the tiny town of Waikoikoi has a population of
less than 1000 people.
One of their residents happens to be New Zealand's No
1-ranked male amateur golfer.
His name is Vaughan McCall and the 21-year-old, who practises
at the nearby Tapanui club and plays out of the Gore Golf
Club, is eyeing another solid outing at this week's New
Zealand Open at Clearwater in Christchurch.
With a handful of promising young Kiwi players having turned
professional recently, McCall's name has risen up the amateur
rankings as he has registered a collection of useful results
during the past 12 months.
The right-hander finished 13th in the individual standings at
this year's Eisenhower Trophy in Turkey as New Zealand
finished a disappointing 24th.
McCall made the cut at Clearwater last December when he
finished in a tie for 45th and this year he made history when
he became the first player to win the New Zealand Stroke Play
and New Zealand Amateur titles in the same year.
"I made the cut last year and I definitely feel like I'm an
improved player from one year ago. So I feel like I can
achieve high here," McCall said after he finished practice
"I'll be looking to win, but to mainly get myself in to
contention for the opportunity to win."
Like any amateur player, McCall has to fund his golfing
aspirations with a day job and he spends between six and
eight hours a day working on a local dairy farm.
"It's mainly tractor driving and odd jobs that the other
workers don't complete so I just do the tidy up stuff and
there's always things to be done on a farm," he said.
"It's about finding a balance. It's great going away
jet-setting and travelling the world playing all these great
tournaments but coming back to the farm, the cows, they don't
know who you are so it keeps you very grounded."
One of the most common questions an amateur golfer fields is
when they will make the step up to the professional game and
McCall said he still had things to prove in the unpaid ranks
"A lot of people as me why I'm not going now but I just feel
I've got a bit more to achieve as an amateur yet."
The next Eisenhower Trophy tournament will be held in Japan
in 2014 and McCall said that would be a likely send-off event
before he turns pro.
McCall will lead a field of promising amateurs at Clearwater
this week, as a Kiwi bids to become the first New Zealander
to win the Open since Mahal Pearce triumphed at Middlemore in
A few players who will tee it up in Christchurch on Thursday
just enjoyed a decent weekend at the Australian Masters in
Melbourne, including Lower Hutt pros Gareth Paddison and Mark
Brown who finished in a share of third place, while Michael
Hendry was tied for sixth.
There's also a collection of other Kiwis who could etch their
name on the trophy, including former European Tour player
Greg Turner, one-time PGA Tour winner Phil Tataurangi and
rookie professional Ryan Fox.
- Daniel Richardson, APNZ