Tasmanian shoots superb 66 to win qualifying at the Mount by three shots.
Australian national squad member Ryan McCarthy watched Matt Jager win the New Zealand Amateur from up close in 2009. 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 66 at the Mt Maunganui Golf Club yesterday for an 11 under total and a win in the qualifying by three shots from leading Kiwi hope Vaughan McCall.
Harrison Savage, who held the overnight lead with a six under 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 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 matchplay from today.
"Once matchplay starts it's a whole new game, you have to take it hole by hole - it sounds cliche 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 dreamed of being an NZ Amateur champion.
"I was rooming with Matt Jager when he won three years ago 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 strokeplay and matchplay in the same year in 24 years. The last person to achieve that feat was Victorian Brad Hughes back in 1988.
Wellington's Julianne Alvarez won the women's qualifying after carding an even 72 in round two to win by two shots from fellow New Zealand rep Sarah Bradley.
"I felt really confident that I was backing myself and that made me feel good," said the Manor Park 15-year-old.
"The putts were dropping a lot more today which was nice and Sarah played really well so it was nice to have that added pressure. It heightens the focus.
"I feel good about being the No 1 seed but you know matchplay is anyone's game. It is there for anyone now and it's unpredictable. I am not taking anything for granted."
Alvarez knows three top players in Lydia Ko, Emily Perry and Chantelle Cassidy are not here this week but she still holds hopes of being selected for the Espirito Santo in September.
"A good solid performance will get me looked at for that team."
Meantime Bradley was happy with her finish on the sixth hole that saw her come up with an eagle.
"Today was a grinding day," said the Waikato rep.
"I made a soft bogey on my 17th hole and I stood on the sixth tee [her 18th] and put a good one down there and made eagle to finish well at even par. I have a lot more momentum now.
"It is good to have an opportunity to win this title. Julianne is a great golfer and she showed that today. I am taking the mindset that I am going to go for it and try and win this title.
"I am really looking forward to playing matchplay on this course because it is the perfect matchplay course - there is a lot of risk and reward out there. Hopefully I'll make it through to the final on Sunday and would love to meet Julianne there."
With the two rounds of stroke play in qualifying complete the top 32 players have been found to contest the NZ Amateur. The knock-out matchplay contest begins today, with the 36-hole final to be contested on Sunday.