McCall far more confident this year
Playing among the professionals holds no horrors for Southland golfer Vaughan McCall as he prepares to tee it up in this week's NZPGA Championships at Arrowtown.
The 21-year-old is a far more mature golfer than the one who narrowly missed the cut at The Hills in the corresponding event last year.
"It's more like I'm trying to be one of them, or better than them now," he said.
McCall spent the first two days of last year's tournament in the same group as early leader Andrew Martin, who eventually finished runner-up to Michael Hendry, who will arrive back in Central Otago as New Zealand's top-ranked men's golfer.
McCall missed the cut for the weekend by one shot but was the best of the three amateur players in the field and he will take some of that experience into this week.
"Just to keep doing what I was doing. Watching Andrew Martin get second was awesome after watching him play for the first two days, just the way he was striking it and holing putts. I'll try and mimic that this year."
McCall is back in New Zealand after a successful tour of South Africa, where he helped lead the New Zealand team to a runner-up finish in the Ten Nations Cup, one shot behind winners Australia.
He then carried on to a top-10 finish in the South African strokeplay championships, a good sign as he prepares to defend his New Zealand strokeplay title next month.
Despite having already played a lot of golf this year, McCall said he was as motivated as ever.
"Physically I'm getting fitter as I move on, so that's really good. Mentally, at the end of last year and through December and January I was pretty stale, but I've played my way out of that stage and the golf is showing more and more promise."
McCall is also excited about getting back to the exclusive The Hills course.
"I love the location, love Queenstown, as probably everyone does, but it's just an awesome place and the course is always pure. I'm looking forward to it."
McCall will be one of two New Zealand amateurs in the field, joining his national team-mate Josh Munn, from Manawatu.
McCall admitted there may be a small side tournament going on between the two.
"Maybe not officially, but we are both pretty competitive and we will want to beat each other," he said.
The NZPGA championship starts at The Hills on Thursday, with another 66 amateurs, including Ian Botham and Lydia Ko who will join them for the Pro-Am tournament which runs alongside over the weekend.
- The Southland Times