Top Kiwi amateur McCall has all before him

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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New Zealand's No 1 amateur Vaughan McCall is looking forward to a well-earned break from the fairway before starting 2013 with three tournaments in Australia.

It's been a massive year for the Gore Golf Club member, who in the past 12 months has led Southland to its maiden win at the interprovincial championship, equalled the course record of 63 at the Lake Macquarie men's international, taken out both the national men's stroke and matchplay titles, finished runner-up at the Welsh Amateur and made a solid debut at the Eisenhower Trophy, finishing tied for 13th in the individual standings.

Not a bad time to look back and reflect.

Two recent performances stand out for the 21-year-old dubbed the "Waikoikoi Wonder" in a recent edition of The Cut magazine.

He finished 43rd at his second New Zealand Open at Clearwater, but despite that being one place worse than his debut the previous year, McCall was taking plenty of positives out of the performance.

"I was feeling very confident leading into the event with a win under the belt at the Taieri Classic. I went out there with a bold statement and trying to win at Clearwater," he said.

"I had myself in a great position after two rounds, only four back from the lead."

A disappointing third round saw him tumble down the leaderboard but he managed to recover with a 1-under fourth round, in a tournament won by 19-year-old Australian amateur Jake Higginbottam.

"The best thing about the event was seeing where I have come in 12 months," McCall said.

"In 2011, I finished 42nd and played to the best of my abilities. This year I've had two rough rounds and finished the same. I see that as a major positive."

Last week's Australian Open was another chance for McCall to add to his rapidly growing bank of big golfing experience.

Some aggressive shot play resulted in rounds of 77 and 74 and a missed opportunity - by three shots - to make the cut but again McCall was happy to take away some valuable lessons.

McCall played a practice round with 2013 PGA Tour player Cameron Percy and was pleased to see that he was on the right track in terms of the way he works on his game.

"It's great to see the preparation the top players are putting in, in comparison to me. I now can't wait to get back there next year and see what I can improve."

Despite coming to the end of a busy schedule, the excitement in McCall's voice is obvious, particularly when he's discussing a recent visit to the Victorian Institute of Sport where he spent time with the golf programme, getting a gauge of the intense detail which is part of the players' development.

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McCall will play the Master of the Amateurs, Australian Amateur and Lake McQuarrie tournaments in January before returning home for a week.

He'll barely have time to unpack before grabbing the passport again for a trip to South Africa where he will represent New Zealand at the 10 Nations Cup, an expanded tournament based on the Four Nations Cup which was played at The Hills, near Arrowtown, this year.

McCall will be part of a four-man New Zealand team, with the best three scores counting from each round.

While in South Africa he will also play in the national amateur strokeplay championship.

- The Southland Times

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