Over the past week three young golfer’s from Canterbury have been competing in the Faldo Series Asia regional final in Vietnam. Having won their places at the New Zealand qualifying event at Clearwater Golf Club last December they have been pitted in competition with young golfers aged from 12to 21 from 19 other countries in the Asian region to try to secure a place in the Faldo Series Grand Final in Europe in November 2018.
New Zealand has been represented for each of the last 4 years in Asia, with the best finishes so far being second placing’s for Amelia Garvey (Kaiapoi Golf Club) and Jordan Woodall ( Cambridge Golf Club) in the 2017 finals.
This year Hiroki Miya (Russley Golf Club) has gone one better and secured the U18 Boys title by an empathic 12 shots to book his ticket to the Faldo Series Grand Final and also secure an invitation to play in an Asian Development Tour professional event later this year.
After equaling his own lowest score of 64 in the first round of the event Hiroki had a few difficulties in the last 9 holes of round 2, posting a level par round of 71, and dropping to second overall.
There was plenty of drama along the way but perhaps the highlight for Hiroki was his par save on day one at the par-four 10th that he will long remember.
With one of his few false strokes during his round of 64, Miya had pulled his approach shot at the 409-yard dog-leg left into the ditch short of the green. Although his ball came to rest on a patch of dry mud, in order to execute the 50-yard shot Miya had to take off his shoes and socks and wade into foot-deep mud.
"I considered taking a penalty drop, but eventually decided to give it a go," said Miya, who made clean contact and watched with delight as his ball stopped two feet from the flag. He duly tapped-in for a par that felt like a birdie.
A solid round of 2 under par 69 on the final day secured his age grade title, conceding the overall title to the form Japanese player, Suzuka Yamaguchi.
The two other kiwi’s also acquitted themselves well. Kazuma Kobori (Rangiora Golf Club) finished 4th in the U16 boys grade and Juliana Hung (Russley) also finished 4th in the U16 girls grade.
Juliana had a forgettable first day round of 77 leaving her in 13th place in her grade before carding two rounds of 69 to secure fourth spot. Her determination to succeed and application to putting aside her early round issues show how much potential this 15 year old has.
Kazuma managed three round s of par or better but was not able to close the gap on Taipei’s Chen Ting Yu. He will be inspired by Hiroki’s result and no doubt be a contender for the 2018 Faldo Series NZ Championship.
One of the highlights of the Faldo Series Asia finals is the opportunity for all players to engage in coaching clinics with six time major champion Sir Nick Faldo. For Hiroki and Juliana this was their second chance to learn from one of the best golfers in the world thanks to the generous sponsorship of both New Zealand Golf and Todd and Marion Heller.