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It was a hard fought battle at the U.S. Kids Australian Junior Golf Open at Riverside Oaks Golf Resort in Cattai, Australia over the weekend, but very proud of the Koni kids' efforts in the end.
Anahera won the Girls 9 and Under age grade of two 9 hole rounds. She qualified 1st at the end of Day 1 (41) but on Day 2 the field fought back and competition was tough. It was a tense finish on the 9 hole with Anahera 3 over the card going into the last hole, then landing in the water and making a triple bogey. She was hitting straight and long but this hole just seemed to get the better of her on the second day. However, her 42 was enough to finish and to win by one shot overall. It was a stressful hole - for Dad as caddy at least - but the smile on Arni’s face suggested otherwise.
So with that done, Dad swapped caddy bibs and ran over to Kairangi who had 7mins until his tee off time in the final group for the Boys 10.
Kairangi’s competition in the Boys 10 and under age grade was even tougher, but a 79 gross on Day 1 meant he was heading into the final round at 3rd position. On Day 1, Kairangi found the water hazards a couple of times (both Par 5s) due to a couple of stray drives but managed to salvage bogeys from great approach shots in his short game . He clearly worked on this the next morning during warm up (while Dad was caddying Anahera still) and managed to hit 12 of 14 fairways on Day 2 off the tee. It was an impressive group of boys to watch on Day 2 with the four boys often finishing a hole tied, with birdies and pars the common outcomes. It was an awesome game to observe for the spectators which the group of boys picking up 3 birdies on hole 1 to set the stage for the day., At the 13th, all 4 boys birdied the 255m Par 4. By the end of the second day Kairangi had held his place to finish 3rd overall shooting a final round 76, behind two scratch golfers ,Adam Ding and Jonathan Hong from Australia.
Overall, considering last years results (2018), where Anahera was 3rd and Kairangi was 6th, it was pleasing for them to finish in high positions this year. Their success does qualify them to further their golf experiences overseas, but we will not be taking this up as it will just interrupt their winter sports and our time together as a family. As parents we miss our other kids when we travel and have noticed that both Kairangi and Anahera particularly miss their Mum (who usually stays home but this time travelled with Kairangi and Anahera) , siblings, their pets, regular routines and even school! We (Junior Golf Otago) are lucky to have over 17 local Order of Merit Events for their golf, so happy to settle for this in the mean time with perhaps only going to the age grade events in New Zealand or Australia in the short term.
For now, it's back to school as usual and a little rest for the kids. The kids rugby/ netball and swimming seasons are gearing up at the moment but to finish off the season Kairangi (at 10yrs old) has been named in the Otago Under 16 Boys team to play in the South Island Men’s U19 Golf tournament at Harewood next week. Then both Kairangi and Anahera will take up the invitation to the Te Wai Pounamu (South Island) Maori Golf Tournament at Avondale Golf Course (36 holes), Christchurch after Anahera placed 1st and Kairangi placed 2nd at the Waitangi Day tournament played at St Clair Golf course in February. They will then head over to support the Arrowtown Junior Tournament, part of the OOM series.
On behalf of Liz and I, thank you for all of your input into our children. We appreciate the time you take (it doesn’t go unnoticed) to simply say hi, show an approachable, warm and friendly smile or include the kids in Club comps, pennants, social events, funding etc. These acts of kindness are why our kids and future kids will enjoy the sport and our golf community. When talking to other parents (North Island and abroad) it confirms in our minds that we have the best supportive, genuine and safe golfing community for our kids and it makes us both grateful and proud. Please pass on our regards to our wonderful network our friends, and golfing families (club members).
- Dan Koni