It's been more than 50 years since an amateur golfer won the
New Zealand Open, but Vaughan McCall doesn't see why he can't
be in the mix at Clearwater on Sunday.
The Gore Golf Club right-hander sat in the clubhouse this
afternoon in Christchurch after he fired a one-under 71 that
was good for a share of fourth place after the first round of
McCall, who is New Zealand's No 1-ranked male amateur, shot
three birdies and two bogeys around Clearwater as he took
advantage of the better conditions in the morning.
The last amateur to win the Open was Australian Harry
Berwick, who topped the field in 1956, and McCall has the
potential to stun the pros this week.
"I think I'm capable of winning, but I've put my sights on
getting myself into contention and giving myself a chance to
win because of the experience I'll get out of that," the
The stiff Clearwater breeze got up during the latter stages
of McCall's round, but he held strong to finish with a
promising first round.
"I hit the ball really solid, which is just what you need to
do out there in the wind. You need to strike the ball really
"I'm happy with how I'm hitting it and I rolled the rock
really well too."
McCall will tee off at 12.40pm tomorrow, which means he will
have to play his round throughout the afternoon, when the
wind is likely to be the strongest out on the course.
"It will depend on conditions, but I just want to keep myself
in contention to shoot a low round and get on that
leaderboard as well," he said.
"I like the wind and feel I've got a good strategy for how to
play it and I handled it well today."
Not every player found Clearwater as easy as McCall though,
as a handful of competitors were chewed up and spat out by
the brutal course and strong winds.
Monday qualifier Joonsang Chung carded a whopping 17-over 89,
while Marlborough amateur Brook Hale produced a 51 on the
front nine and eventually signed for a 24-over 96 that left
him in last place.
Fellow amateur Compton Pikari went straight out on the course
and shot a nine on the par-five 10th hole, which was a
devastating way to start his first New Zealand Open.
The youngster finished with an 18-over score of 90 and would
need to produce something miraculous in his second round to
make the cut.
Australian pro Gavin Fairfax was disqualified after he signed
for an incorrect scorecard.