By SHELLEY TOPP
A Rangiora teenager who played without a caddy blitzed a talented field to win the New Zealand Professional Golfers Association (NZPGA) Championship at Pegasus on Sunday.
Playing as an amateur, Rangiora High School student Kazuma Kobori, aged 17, was in spectacular form.
He won the championship by four shots with a 21-under 267 tournament total.
Kazuma won the winner’s trophy and also the Sir Bob Charles Trophy as the leading New Zealand player, but not the winner’s share of the $125,000 prize-money.
That went to second place-getter David Smail, a Hamilton professional, because as an amateur Kazuma is unable to accept any prize-money.
However, that seemed irrelevant as Kazuma celebrated the enormity of what he had achieved after sinking his winning shot at the 18th hole.
He finished with a huge grin. Soon after, he was surrounded by well-wishers.
During the presentation ceremony, NZ PGA general manager Dominic Sainsbury said Kazuma, who was also his own caddy for the four-day tournament, had played exciting, extraordinary golf.
The tournament and Kazuma’s win had put the Pegasus Golf and Sports Clubs
course on the world stage, Dominic said.
Kazuma opted to play his own game around his home course to see how it would turn out. “It worked out pretty well.
Playing around my home course with all these people supporting me, it was a great pleasure to be out there. It felt amazing.”
The gracious young golfer had a long list of people he wanted to thank,
including the tournament sponsors and organisers, plus the volunteers, grounds staff, spectators and the club members “who could not play all week because of the tournament.”
Kazuma’s father, Ryo Kobori, from Rangiora, said it had been exciting to see
his son play so well.
Kazuma’s sister, Momoka, is also a talented golfer. She was not at Pegasus on
Sunday to see her brother as she is in California on a golfing scholarship.
Rangiora High School principal Karen Stewart said the school will be
celebrating Kazuma’s success at a school assembly tomorrow. “As a school we are tremendously proud of Kazuma’s achievement,” she said.
“Kazuma is a great role model for all of our students in terms of his dedication to his sport and the focus he has on achieving his goals.”