Canterbury No.1 and New Zealand Rep Kazuma Kobori held off all challengers in the final round of the 2022 Lamb & Hayward Canterbury Stroke Play at Russley Golf Club over Waitangi weekend to win the title by three shots over Otago's Tom Lee and Russley's Zach May.
The field had endured miserable conditions on Saturday to put themselves in position for the final round on Sunday and it was a credit to both the players and Russley's green-keeping staff that they managed to get through the 36 holes. Only three or four courses in Canterbury would've have been able to stand up to the steady drizzle and rain that fell most of the day. At over the 6500 metres off the black tees and tough playing conditions scoring was not easy and many younger and inexperienced players has a reality check as to where their game may be at.
By the end of day one in the Men's Championship, the "cream had risen to the top" and Zach May and Kazuma Kobori had a one shot lead over Tom Lee, with two further shots back to Tyler Wood and Dom Brettkelly. Realistically the champion was going to come from this group as the rest of the field were too far away and so it proved to be. In the final round NZ Rep Tyler Wood got off to a hot start with an eagle on the Par 5 second hole and another birdie a few holes later. He looked most likely to challenge for the lead, having a look at birdie most holes on the front nine, however the long Par 4 8th hole was his undoing when he pulled his drive into the trees and make double bogey. He then made double bogey on the 10th hole and his challenge was effectively over. Zach May also started well with two birdies and had a one shot lead over Kobori playing the 9th hole. However a lapse in concentration on the 9th tee saw him pull his tee shot on to the first tee leading to a double bogey. Kobori made par and he turned with a one shot lead. Various challenges came from Tom Lee, May, and Brettkelly during the back nine but they were unable to peg back the steady play of Kobori. Kazuma will be glad to etch his name on this prestigious trophy after going down narrowly to Kerry Mountcastle last year. Akarana's Joshua Bai won the trophy for the best U19 players for the second year running and had a creditable 6th place overall.
Nelson's Lizze Neale had a a four shot lead in the Women's Championship going into the final round but would succumb to great play from her southern competitors Sumin Kang and Yoonae Jeong. They fired rounds of 75 and 73 respectively to end up in a play-off, four shots ahead of Neale. On the second play-off hole Jeong holed a six foot biride putt to take the title from her friend. Olive Tapu was the best of the local contingent placing fourth.
The Men's Masters Championship was a close contest going into the final round. Nine players were in contention led by Bottle Lake's Kieran Sharvin, with James Howard, Alisdair Reid, Andrew Dufton, and Simon Edwards two shots behind him. However the leaders struggled in the final round and it would be two players behind them that would come through for the top places. Waitikiri's Woo Bong Kim shot the best final round with 75, but was pipped for the title by Nelson's Ben Crawford who shot 76. Crawford won by two shots over Kim and Christchurch's Alisdair Reid who were tied. Kieran Sharvin held on for fourth, and Brett Turner was the best of the Canterbury Reps finishing fifth.
Unfortunately only four players contested the Women's Master's Championship, and Rachel Eder was always too strong for her playing partners winning by 25 shots over Clearwater club-mate Virginia Faass.
The Patston Media Stroke Play Series was also concluded with Kazuma Kobori, Tom Lee, Sumin Kang, and Caerwyn Ross winning development funds for the best results over the Southland, Otago, and Canterbury Stroke Plays.
Thanks must go to the Russley Golf Club and its members. Mike Yorston and his green-keeping staff did a magnificent job with the course with many favourable comments on its condition and how it held up in the poor weather. Thanks also to Stephen Parkyn and Lamb & Hayward for their continued support, and also the the CGRA referees for their time.
Despite the conditions, the tournament was a great championship with NZ's top amateurs coming from all parts of the country for a tilt at the title.