Historic day for New Zealand golf

BY NZ Golf | New Zealand Mens Amateur Tour | 2012 New Zealand Amateur Championship | Wrap | 22 Apr 2012

20-year-old Vaughan McCall, from the Gore Club in Southland, is the first golfer to win both the NZ Stroke Play and NZ Amateur titles in the same year in 24 years after overcoming Rotorua teenager Peter Lee 6 and 5 in fine conditions this afternoon at the Mount Maunganui Golf Club.

Meantime, with two sisters contesting the title for the first time in the 119 year history of the event, Munchin Keh (19) was too good for her younger sister Wenyung (15) winning on the 36th hole with one of the shots of the championship.

But it was the record-breaking feats of McCall that had most of the locals in the Mount Maunganui Golf Club talking as he became the first Kiwi to do the rare double in 39 years after Tauranga golfer Mike Nicholson won both events at the Springfield Golf Club in 1973.

McCall was delighted to hold aloft the New Zealand Amateur trophy.

“It means a lot to me to win this title and to win both the Amateur and the Stroke Play in the same year just makes it sugar-coated, ” he said.

“It is pretty cool to make some history. This is awesome for Southland golf and they are helping me out now too so this great for them. I can’t wait to get back to the Gore Golf Club and share this with them.”

The Srixon Academy member is known for being one of the best putters in the local game delivered his best when it mattered most.

“I got the ball rolling really well today. I had a really good process in my mind for what I was trying to do with putting today and I made 100 percent of putts from inside 10 feet today so that is a stat I am pretty proud of.”

McCall said the turning point of the match was in the first round on the 16th where he had a 30 foot putt for birdie to Lee’s eight feet.

“I said to myself ‘right if I can hole this it will put a lot of pressure on his’ and I made mine and he missed. That was a big turning point. We had a good halve on the 17th and it was good to sneak one back on the 18th with a birdie to take a 3up lead into the afternoon. From there I felt I had the control.”

McCall is also the first golfer from Southland to win the New Zealand Amateur. He is also the first golfer from the deep south to have won the NZ Stroke Play and in 2011 he led Southland to their first win in the Toro Interprovincial.

He has been working hard on his mental game and it paid dividends as he was relaxed and composed throughout.

“Someone took a photo on my downswing and I hit a terrible shot. Six months ago I would have walked down that hole frustrated as, but I let it go, made a great up and down and I wasn’t holding any baggage… it was good.”

McCall, who made the turn with a three up advantage with great birdie putts at the 16th and the 18th, carried his momentum in the afternoon. He won the first two holes after lunch to move to 5up and from there Lee was always playing catch up.

Lee made a fine birdie on the 25th hole to get back to four down but every time he rallied McCall held him off with fine saves for par. The No.2 seed went six up with seven holes to play and then finished off the job with a fine par on the 13th.

“Peter is a great talent and I think he has a big future. He was a bit inconsistent today and that came down to the pressure and he’ll learn from this and be better for it.”

Meantime the women s match, which was all square after 18, went down to the wire with a good gallery on the 36th hole.

Munchin Keh held a dormy three advantage but Wenyung stayed alive on 16 and then made a great putt for par on the par 3 17th to force the match down the 18th.

Munchin, with a 1up advantage only needed a par to seal the title but delivered an incredible shot from the rough 150m out to within 1m from the hole to effectively seal the title.

Wenyung hit her approach to 10m from the hole and then drained the birdie putt to force her older sister to make her putt. Munchin coolly sank her putt for the biggest win of her young career.

“It means a lot to me to be the New Zealand Amateur Champion,” said the 19-year-old.

“It is my best achievement and something that I will look back on and be really happy about.”

The two sisters are great friends but for the duration of the 36 hole final they didn’t talk to each other saying “on the course we are competitors, afterwards we’ll be sisters and friends.”

Munchin said keeping to herself helped her keep her focus.

“I was trying to ignore what she is thinking and how she is going. It was hard to do since I know her so well and when she hits a bad shot I would feel for her and want to talk to her but then I had to remember that she was the opposition.

“At the end of the day it was really close. I felt really pressured and I had to keep my head in the game and eventually it worked. I am really looking forward to talking to her about the round and the good holes.”

Munchin becomes only the third woman golfer from Titirangi to win the New Zealand Amateur title after Miss M. Hughes (1952) and Miss N.B White (1966). It was a proud day for the Alister Mackenzie designed Auckland course as for the first time two sisters squared off in the final.

The comeback of her younger sister really put the pressure on her and she’ll always remember her week at Mount Maunganui by her approach to the 18th.

“She came back at me really well and did it with some really good putting. She was pretty steady so it was a nerve-wracking standing on the 18th tee.

“I was in a bad lie and then I came up with one of the best shots I have ever hit. It is something that I will always remember. I just said to myself ok I have to put mine in and I felt it was well deserved. I did my job.”

New Zealand Amateur Final (36 Hole Final) Results:
Vaughan McCall (Gore) bt Peter Lee (Rotorua) 6 and 5
Munchin Keh (Titirangi) bt Wenyung Keh (Titirangi) 1up

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