New Zealand have made a great start to the Ten Nations Cup, claiming a two-shot lead over Scotland after round one, with Southland No 1 Vaughan McCall carding a near-flawless three-under par 69 yesterday in George, South Africa.
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 (73) having the non-counting score.
England and Argentina share third place only three shots back from New Zealand, and Ireland and Colombia share fifth. Australia and South Africa are off the pace in eighth and ninth.
The four Kiwi 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," said McCall.
McCall, who finished tied 13th and leading Kiwi at the Eisenhower Trophy last year, continued his momentum when representing NZ. "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 Strokeplay 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 recently 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 it was a great experience today."
Munn is the only amateur to have won two NZ 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."
Hodge made an impressive debut as a senior team member, adding to the team effort with a fine 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 Kiwis were all blown away by the layout of the Kingswood Golf Estate.
Munn said: "This course is awesome to play. Where some of the bunkers are off the tee are in the perfect place for a wayward tee shot and the greens are just so pure."
McCall said: "This is such a great place to play and a beautiful environment."
The Four Nations Cup was last staged at The Hills, near Arrowtown, where Ben Campbell, Ryan Fox, Mathew Perry and McCall finished runners-up to Australia.
- © Fairfax NZ News