October 27, 2017: Royal Wellington Golf Club member Kerry Mountcastle said local support has been as important as local knowledge as the 22-year-old electrician made a solid start to his Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship debut.
Mountcastle lives and works in Masterton, about an hour northeast of Royal Wellington, and on Friday a group of supporters from his hometown provided a huge boost as New Zealand’s eighth-ranked amateur continued to outperform many of his nine teammates in the field.
Playing in the first group at 8.00am, he carded a rapid-fire 70 to move to three-under, breezing through the par-71 layout in well under four hours in a bid to avoid the blowy conditions expected later in the day.
“It’s huge having local support. To have a group from Masterton come down today and join me was just awesome. It’s great having the support there,” he said.
“It also helps knowing the course to know what the wind’s actually doing and what the best spots are to hit it in the wind, especially yesterday afternoon.”
On Friday, he started strongly with birdies on one and four, had a mid-round wobble, then recovered with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 to the delight of his supporters.
“It was good. I got off to a good start then had a rocky patch for most of the round and then finished with two birdies, which was really nice,” said Mountcastle who also fired five birdies on Thursday.
Mountcastle has made special efforts to prepare for the ninth AAC, even securing time off work as a ‘‘sparky’ (electrician) ahead of the event to compete and practice.
At the start of the month, he played Charles Tour events in Harewood (Christchurch) and New Plymouth, finishing sixth in the latter, and last weekend won the Manawatu Open in Palmerston North, just over an hour north of Masterton.
“I’ve had the last three weeks off work and this is my fourth week off. I’d already talked to my boss about having time off for the event if I made it into the team. I wanted to play the Charles Tour events as prep for this,” Mountcastle said.
“I’ve been coming here to Royal Wellington the last couple of months to practice more as I only live an hour away. I’m a member because Under 25 rates are quite cheap – and they accepted me!”
Mountcastle is now daring to dream as the winner this week earns spots in both the 2018 Masters Tournament and The 147th Open at Carnoustie.
“I’m hoping to build on my opening rounds, stay patient and keep going as I am. Birdies are there so I just need to trust my game,” said Mountcastle whose lowest round at Royal Wellington is a 65.
“To win, I’d say I need a round like that and another decent round as well, but it all depends if the wind gets up and brings the field closer together.”
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) is organised by the Founding Partners – Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A – and will be televised across 160 countries and reach millions of homes around the world.
The Championship is also supported by six Proud Partners – AT&T, 3M, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Zurich and UPS – and two Scoring Partners, Rolex and IBM.