Local amateur Kazuma Kobori leads the SEC NZ PGA Championship by four shots following round three at Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.
Starting the round as the equal leader alongside Josh Geary and Jack Wilson, a spectacular blemish-free round of golf featuring six birdies has put the 17-year-old firmly in the lead at his home course.
“It was good. I struck the ball pretty well on the front-9 and holed a few putts,” said Kobori.
“I didn’t make too many coming in but apart from that I made no bogeys today so I can’t complain.
“I’m a member here so I’ve played here hundreds of times and I know pretty much all of the breaks so I’m just going out there and trusting the process and trying to hole putts.
“It’s been working out so far so I’ve just got to stick with it.”
A lead of four shots over Victorian Cameron John is pleasing but not the most important thing for Kobori who is simply happy to have made it so far in the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournament.
“Having a lead is nice but really going into the tournament I was just trying to make the cut,” Kobori emphasised.
“Anything above here is a bonus so I’m just happy to get to play tomorrow so we’ll see how it goes.
“It feels good but it doesn’t really change what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m just going to go out there and play my own game and see what happens.”
While nerves snuck in at the start of his round, a significant hometown crowd following the group around the course did little to shift his focus.
“I was nervous at the start when I realised how many people were out to watch but it was good,” Kobori added.
“That’s my first tournament with so many people watching so it felt good but I’m just trying to play my own game out there.”
Playing the third round alongside professionals Josh Geary and Jack Wilson has proved as a highlight for the Kiwi who will learn from his 18 holes with the pair.
“I had a really good time out there,” Kobori continued.
“Jack is a really good guy and his caddy (Rizz) is a really funny guy as well so I really enjoyed it.
“I probably learned from how they handle themselves on the course, even if they hit a bad shot they were pretty calm about it, they didn’t react much which is something I could definitely take in.”
The ninth hole has continued to be a favourite of Kobori who has now added a birdie on the par-5 hole to his tally.
“I hit a nice chip on 9, didn’t eagle it this time but that’s ok I made birdie still,” Kobori joked.
“I short sided myself on 9 but got an up and down to go to 5-under through the turn so that was probably the big shot of the day.
“Hopefully I can play as good as I did tomorrow.”
Flying under the radar early in the tournament, three consistent rounds of 71, 64 and 67 have pushed Australian Cameron John to second on the leaderboard with a total of 14-under 202.
“I think the course suits me,” said John. “I felt like I didn’t start how I wanted to but I was just mentally a bit slow I think.
“My first eight holes of the tournament I was 4-over and from there it’s been easy to fly under the radar because I’ve been nowhere near the lead until now.”
Pleased to be at the pointy end going into the final day of play as the leading professional, John insists winning the tournament is more important than taking home the final prize purse.
“I don’t think it makes any difference,” he added. “At the end of the day we’re out here to win.”
“He’s playing great,” John said of Kobori. “Hopefully I can just play better.”
Following a fantastic round of 8-under par, Damien Jordan has moved up the leaderboard to sit tied for third place alongside Western Australia’s Daniel Fox at 13-under the card.
The fourth and final round of play at the SEC NZ PGA Championship will begin at 9:20am at Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.
For round three results, please visit pga.org.au.
For round four tee times, please visit pga.org.au.
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