Canterbury teen takes on the pros again at NZ Open

Kazuma Kobori has his sights set up upsetting the pros again at the New Zealand Open. Photo:...
Kazuma Kobori has his sights set up upsetting the pros again at the New Zealand Open. Photo: Getty Images
Canterbury teen golfing sensation Kazuma Kobori is hoping to once again stun the pros in the New Zealand Open when he tees off at The Hills and Millbrook courses on Thursday.

Last year the 18-year-old Rangiora club member put golf followers around the world on notice when he stunned a field of Australasia’s top professionals to win the NZ PGA Championship at Pegasus.

Being an amateur meant Kobari was unable to collect the $17,555 prize money for winning last year’s PGA Championship.

NZ’s top-ranked amateur is becoming no stranger to professional events, having played in half a dozen over the past 12 months - including the Diamond Cup in Japan.

“When you play amateur events it’s not all fun and games, but everyone is taking it pretty relaxed," said Kobori. 

"But when the guys are playing for money, it’s a completely different story. I like that kind of feeling, when there’s a bit more on the line."

Last year Kobori was playing events such as the Canterbury Strokeplay and South Island Strokeplay, but this year he has started the year across the ditch, testing his talents against some of the top amateurs in the world.

He finished 41st at the Australian Masters of the Amateurs in Victoria and 10th at the Avondale Amateur in New South Wales.

Kobori says the step up in competition is helping take his game to the next level.

“It’s good to get that winning confidence, but you get complacent with where you are.

"Whereas, if you play at a higher level, you’re always pushing forward to get better,” he said.

The NZ Open will be played at The Hills and Millbrook courses in Queenstown. Photo: Getty Images
The NZ Open will be played at The Hills and Millbrook courses in Queenstown. Photo: Getty Images
The NZ Open in Queenstown is the start of a busy six weeks for Kobori.

He will play the Riverdale Cup in Australia after the NZ Open and then return home for the NZ Strokeplay in Hastings.

He will then have a week off before playing the Muriwai Open and Akarana Open.

Kobori is currently the 134th ranked amateur in the world.

He hopes to get inside the top 50, which would give him exemption into high-profile events in the United States, including the US Amateur.

“If I can play good in these six weeks, I’ll get my world ranking up and then, hopefully, I can make a trip to the States to play some golf during July and August,” he said.

 

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