Plenty of positives despite the result

VAUGHAN MCCALL
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014
Vaughan McCall
SCOTT HAMMOND/Fairfax NZ
Vaughan McCall.

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The Australian Amateur tournament is made up of 244 players with a cut to 64 players after two rounds and a matchplay knockout format from there to determine the winner.

The course was a classic test of Aussie style golf. The closer you get to the hole, the tougher the shot can be.

Fairways are wide in places off the tee, and some require positional play.

There are heavily guarded greens with run off areas and big pot bunkers. The greens were a bent grass and the grain introduced a fun factor for the week.

My golf

Round one was nothing special with a round of two over par.

Round two was one for the memory bank. I was two over par through five holes and the cut was looking like two over par - so I had a lot of work in front of me. I changed my strategy from shaping the ball around the course to trying to hit as many stocks shots and firing at every flag.

I played sensationally through the middle stretch of holes and regained three shots to get back to one under par.

As the wind picked up I dropped two shots on the next few holes. Standing on the 18th tee at three over par I knew I needed to birdie the par-5 18th to make the cut.

With the adrenaline pumping I slammed my tee shot down the middle of an intimidating chute. Going for the par-5 green in two, I pulled my second shot left of the green and left myself shortsided with five metres of green to work with coming over a bunker.

Off a sandy wasteland lie I nipped it perfectly to make it spin hard and land just two feet from the pin - an amazing shot. I tapped in a very nervous putt to make the cut. It is these moments that make me love what I do so much.

The matchplay

I played some scratchy golf to start, with some great short game to hang in the match at one down and one over par.

My opponent was playing great, and he couldn't believe the up and downs I was making to hang in there, so I knew I needed to capitalise on his frustration. I birdied the 210m par-3 6th to level matters and we halved the 7th and 9th with birdies.

He birdied 10, 11 and I bogeyed 13 to go three down. I had to apply the same grit and determination as the previous day to get back into the match. I birdied the 14th and 17th, which were huge moments in the match to take it down to the last hole.

Pumped up again on the last tee, I stripped one down the pipe. I hit an awesome second shot from 217m, hunting the flag stick but it didn't quite climb the false front and ran back down off the green.

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Chipping it up to eight feet, I needed to sink the putt to force a playoff. I missed the putt and, although this match didn't go my way in the end, there are so many positives to take out of the last two days - my desire, determination and performance under pressure.

Next week I have one of my favourite tournaments - the Lake Macqurie Amateur.

Southland golfer Vaughan McCall is one of New Zealand's leading amateur players.


- Southland

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