Kazuma Kobori holed a 12-foot putt down the hill at Rosebud Country Club’s 18th green and the 72nd hole of the Webex Players Series Victoria to write his own little piece of history today.
The brilliant, young New Zealander, just eight tournaments into his professional career, completed back-to-back wins on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, a feat not managed since Adam Scott in 2013.
The 22-year-old from Christchurch had won his first tournament as a professional in Cobram Barooga last weekend and now jumps to second in the Order of Merit, giving himself a strong chance of earning a DP World Tour card for next season.
At 18-under, he beat Malaysia’s Ashley Lau by a shot, with veteran Mat Goggin outright third at 16-under.
“They always say the first win’s hard, and I’ll tell you what, I can speak about it now that the second one’s just as hard,” Kobori said.
“But I’m glad to get the job done.”
It was Goggin who presented the biggest challenge for the Kiwi today, playing in the same group.
From the first hole when Kobori three-putted to give the Tasmanian a share of the lead, to the very last, it was a dogfight.
Ultimately the New Zealander led by a shot from Goggin when they reached the 18th tee, a shortish par-4, and Goggin hit a nice approach to 25 feet, pin-high.
Once Kobori dumped his second shot into the right greenside trap, it was game-on.
But Kobori hit a decent bunker shot to just beyond the hole, and Goggin ran his birdie putt – potentially for the win – six feet by.
Now it came down to Kobori’s par putt, which was for the outright win and the $45,000 first prize cheque.
It rolled in dead centre, much like a lot of important putts that have fallen for him this past two weeks.
“I was very nervous as you probably saw,” he said. “A few tips that my coach gave me just came back to me. I just took my time, and then the putt wasn’t difficult. It was dead straight. I had it there, and I knew it was going to drop.”
Kobori has had an amazing past 12 months, winning the Australian Amateur, the World Amateur with New Zealand, the Australian tour school, and now two tournaments as a pro.
Emigrating from Japan to New Zealand as an infant he followed his elder sister Momoka into golf, and fittingly it was his sibling, who missed the cut this week, who embraced him soon after the final putt dropped.
Goggin, 49, who was remarkable this week for a man who has hardly played any professional golf in the past four years, ultimately missed his par putt coming back to drop to third place.
It would have been his first tournament win since 2015 and it was close.
Kobori began with a one-shot lead and carded a 2-under 69 on the day. Goggin shot 1-under 70.
Lau played in the second-last group and appeared to be out of the running until she started rolling in birdies on the back nine. At the 18th, she had a 60-footer up the hill that could potentially have put her in a playoff, and it sat on the lip of the hole.
Todd Sinnott, the 2022 winner here, rattled home with a 64 to finish fourth.
Meanwhile New South Welshman Cam Pollard won the Webex All Abilities event by two shots, shooting a 3-over 74 for a 147 total, and beating Wayne Perske by two shots.
Perske, a long-time touring professional with a, had won in Cobram Barooga last week, but Pollard said his appearance in the All Abilities ranks had pushed him to perform.
“It’s pushing me to play a lot better,” he said. “It’s not easy because they’ve been on the big stage before. I enjoy it.”
Shepparton teenager Bailey Goodall won the Webex Junior Players Series with rounds of 72-72, ahead of Huntingdale’s Rupert Toomey.
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