New Zealand in lead

Vaughan McCall makes a putt on his way to carding a three under par 69 at the Ten Nations Cup.
Vaughan McCall makes a putt on his way to carding a three under par 69 at the Ten Nations Cup.

New Zealand has made a great start to the Ten Nations Cup claiming a two shot lead over Scotland after round one of four-round inaugural championship in George, South Africa.

Southland No.1 Vaughan McCall led the way with a near flawless three under par 69 and he was well supported by Manawatu/Wanganui players Josh Munn and Tyler Hodge who added rounds of two under par 70.

The Kiwis combined for a seven-under-par team total with Tasman No.1 Blair Riordan having the non-counting score, a one over par 73.  

England and Argentina share third place only three shots back from New Zealand, and Ireland and Colombia share fifth. While Australia and hosts South Africa are off the pace in eighth and ninth place respectively.

The four NZ players arrived at the event with thick sideburns resembling the character of Wolverine but the facial hair is much more about team bonding than attempting to scare the opposition.

"Since we've all been together since January, we decided to grow sideburns just to boost our team spirit, but we don't mind if it intimidates a few people," McCall said.

The Ten Nations Cup, which is being staged at the Kingswood Golf Estate in George from February 6 -9, is an amalgamation of the Four Nations Cup and the Southern Cross Trophy.

McCall, who finished tied 13th and leading Kiwi at the Eisenhower Trophy last year, continued his momentum when representing New Zealand.

"I am pretty happy," said the 21-year-old from the Gore Golf Club.

"I did what I needed to do all day. I got the ball up and down and played well. A pleasurable moment was when my own team mates were hassling me down the last and I chipped in to put a smile on my face."

McCall, who last year became the first golfer in 24 years to win the NZ Stroke Play and NZ Amateur in the same year, is in a share of second on the individual leaderboard behind Paul Elissalde (68) of France.

Munn, who became only the third Kiwi golfer to win the Lake Macquarie Cup, was happy to continue his form in the team environment.

"It feels pretty good out there," said the 21-year-old from the Manawatu Golf Club. 

"It is great to get the silver fern on the back and yeah it was a great experience today."

Munn is the only amateur to have won two Charles Tour titles. He was pleased with his start where he got momentum early.

"The approach shot and birdie putt on three really kicked off the round and we went from there."

Meantime Hodge made an impressive debut as a NZ Senior team member adding to the team effort with a fine two under par 70.

"It was a really good round," said the 18-year-old from the Levin Golf Club. "I started off really well. I was four under through eight holes and dropped a couple of shots on the way home but hopefully I can start well again tomorrow and capitalise on it.

"I hit a couple of putt-ins from off the green, longish range putts that were certainly key to me scoring well today."

The Kiwi boys were all blown away by the layout of the Kingswood Golf Estate.

The Four Nations Cup was last staged at The Hills near Arrowtown where the New Zealand team of Ben Campbell, Ryan Fox, Mathew Perry and McCall finished runner-up to Australia.

It was a biannual event and is now played over four rounds of stroke play between 10 countries. The teams comprise of four male players with the best three scores each day contributing to the team's score.

Following the event the New Zealand team will compete in the South African Stroke Play Championship from February 12- 15 at the Ernie Els designed Oubaai Golf Club in George.

But before then they will look to make history and win the first Ten Nations Cup.