NZ PGA won by 17-year-old amateur from Canterbury

Kazuma Kobori with his trophies after winning the New Zealand PGA Championship at Pegasus in North Canterbury last month

Kazuma Kobori with his trophies after winning the New Zealand PGA Championship at Pegasus in North Canterbury last month

He was just 17 years of age. But already he’s the winner of a golf tournament for professionals.

His name is Kazuma Kobori, he’s from Canterbury and his win came in the New Zealand Professional Golfers’ Association Championship at his home course of Pegasus Golf and Sports Club in North Canterbury.

In a dominant performance, Kobori maintained an overnight lead to win by four shots from New Zealand’s David Smail with rounds of 67, 65, 66 and 69 for a tournament total of 21 under par.

“It feels incredible,” an ecstatic Kobori said.

“It hasn’t actually sunk in yet but I think it will later on. I didn’t miss too many greens today.

“I missed a few but on the front nine I played really solid. I missed a green on number three but I played really solid golf until eight, then went two under through the turn and kept it going.”

Consistency was key for Kobori who, after pre-qualifying for the event on the previous Monday, recorded only two bogeys throughout the tournament.

However it wasn’t until midway through the back nine on Sunday that the amateur realised he was about to win against a field of seasoned professionals.

“I saw the leaderboard on 14. I didn’t know it was there, I just accidentally looked at it, saw that I had a four shot lead at that point and I thought that was pretty sweet.

“I just kept playing my own game and then it was all good."

Coming onto the final stretch, nerves weren’t an issue for Kobori who said he felt more pressure in round three.

“Not really today, I kept it calm,” Kobori said.

“I think my ability to keep calm and not get too angry has helped this week.

“I did get a bit angry out there but not too bad and I kept my composure, I thought that was the key, so I’ll take that on board for next time.”

Joining the strong crowd following the leading group was Kobori’s father, a close friend and the PGA professional he first worked with when starting golf at the age of 10.

“It feels amazing, especially with all of the people out there with all of the support I got it feels incredible,” Kobori said.

“It just makes it that much better I reckon. I’ve been getting messages on Facebook and Instagram as well.

The day after the tournament it was back to school for Kobori.

In addition to winning the New Zealand PGA Championship trophy, Kobori was also honoured as the leading New Zealander with the Sir Bob Charles Trophy.

The tournament’s runner-up was New Zealand’s David Smail who had rounds of 68, 66, 70 and 67 to finish on 17 under par.

“I started off not feeling that confident,’’ Smail recalled.

“Towards the end (in the third round) yesterday I started hitting some pretty bad shots so I was just trying to keep it in play.

“I putted pretty well all week, it’s probably the first time I haven’t had a three-putt in a tournament week for a long, long time. My playing was good and I just managed to hit enough good shots to get a good score.”

Because Kobori is an amateur the first prize of $17,555 went to Smail.

Applauding Kobori for the win, Smail said he has what it takes to go far having seen him in action against his own son.

“I have seen him play,’’ Smail said of Kobori.

“My son is playing a lot with Kazuma, so I’ve seen plenty of his play over the last few years to know that he’s a real talent. He’s done fantastic this week so it’s good for the future.”

Cameron John, from Victoria, was third on a total of 16 under par after a consistent effort across the tournament.

Three players including Blake Proverbs, Mark Purser and Anthony Quayle finished tied for fourth place on 15 under the card.