MT. MAUNGANUI, New Zealand (April 19, 2012) --Australian National Squad member Ryan McCarthy watched Matt Jager win the New Zealand Amateur from up close in 2009 and three years later he goes into the championship as the No.1 seed. The 22-year-old Tasmanian, who was rooming with Jager when he first won the title at Titirangi, shot a superb six under par 66 at the Mount Maunganui Golf Club today to get to an 11 under par total and win the qualifying by three shots from leading Kiwi hope Vaughan McCall.
Harrison Savage, who held the overnight lead with a six under par 66, finished third but the real talking point was the two low rounds of his Aussie mate McCarthy.
“It was a lot more solid than yesterday, again bogey free,” said McCarthy, who made four birdies and an eagle in the warm and benign morning conditions.“I just kept giving myself good chances for birdie and eagle. I had a few other putts that just caught the lip but that always happens when you have a lot of chances but I was thrilled to finish 11 under that is a personal best [for two rounds] and things look like they are moving in the right direction.”
McCarthy has been a regular visitor across the Tasman throughout his amateur career and is not taking anything for granted as they head into the Match Play from tomorrow.
“Once Match Play starts it’s a whole new game, you have to take it hole by hole – it sounds cliché but that is the way it is – qualifying scores go out the window, but I’ll take confidence from this scoring and see how I go.“There is only as much pressure as you put on yourself – that is the thing with golf it is all up to you and what you can control so I will stick with that mindset.“The body is great, I am in the best shape I have been in, in ages. I have been working hard on my fitness and it’s time to put that aside and play some good golf.”
McCarthy has long held the dream to be a New Zealand Amateur champion. “I was rooming with Matt Jager when he won three years ago [at Titirangi] and I was really jealous because this is a title I have always wanted to win.”
Meantime Kiwi McCall is looking to complete a rare double this week by becoming the first player to win the Stroke Play and Match Play in the same year in 24 years. The last person to achieve that feat was Victorian Brad Hughes back in 1988.
The Southland rep will go into the first round of the Match Play as the No.2 seed.“Things have tightened up for the past couple of days and it was even better today,” said the 20-year-old from the Gore Golf Club.
“It was really solid golf. I will definitely take the same game plan from the Stroke Play into the Match Play. I got a few good plays out on the course that I don’t think other players will have so that will give me a bit of an edge.”
McCall, who last year helped Southland to their first win of the Toro Interprovincial in 61 years, said his work on the greens was the key to his second round.
“My putting was a real strength today – hopefully I can keep reading those putts well and I can keep rolling them in.”
He is relishing the chance to play his Australian counterparts in the national championship.“I got to play Ryan McCarthy in the Trans-Tasman trophy and he is a very good golfer. It is good to have the Aussie guys come over and add to the level of competition. It lifts the standard and makes it a really strong field.
“I am feeling good. I am playing well and the course is in good condition, the title is there for the taking.”
Savage, who lit up the course in round one with his best score since a severe leg injury, shot a one under par 71 to secure his place among the top seeds after a night of interrupted sleep.
“I knew that after posting a good number yesterday I didn’t have to attack as much,” said the 20-year-old.“I got a call last night at 3 am to tell let me know that one of my cousins back home had just had a baby – the first girl in the family – so that was pretty cool, but I was pretty tired after that.”
Bay of Plenty local Brad Kendall backed up his two under par 70 with a three under par 69. The 20-year-old from the host club is looking to find the form that saw him win the NZ Stroke Play in 2010 and make the final of the NZ Amateur at the same championship.“My form has been pretty good and I have been building towards this event,” said Kendall.“I am looking to go well. I like my course obviously. I play around here quite a bit and know it well and know the greens well so that is an advantage. I enjoy playing here with people that I know coming out to watch."
Kendall’s father Owen, who won the NZ Amateur back in 1987, and the NZ Stroke Play, was on his bag spurring him on to match his achievement.
“It would be awesome to follow in his footsteps again but I will just give it my best and if it happens that would be great. I like Match Play. It is all over the place golf which is kind of like me. I make a lot birdes and a lot of bogeys so it suits my game and I am excited.”
The top 32 is yet to be decided with three players required to come back tomorrow morning to play off for the final spot.
Nine players finished on a three over par total of 147 from two rounds with only five spaces available. The playoff included Sean Masters (Kaitaia), David Feeney (Tauranga), Tyler Hodge (Levin), Mark Hutson (North Shore), Kevin Budden (Waitemata), Craig Hamilton (Omanu ) Regan Kilpatrick (Russley) Jonathon Ratcliffe (Akarana) and Brayden Mazey (Boulcott's Farm Heritage).
Feeney made birdie on the first hole of sudden death, while Hodge, Hamilton and Kilpatrick all progressed by making pars down the par four, first.
Hutson made a double bogey and the remaining four players made bogeys so they contested the final spot down the 18th. All four players made par. As light faded, Ratcliffe, Mazey and Budden while Masters bowed out with a bogey five. The three players will tee off tomorrow at 7:15am to decide who will be the 32nd seed.