Star Kiwi amateur Kazuma Kobori has tour status for when he turns professional following a playoff win over Queenslander Chris Crabtree at ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Qualifying School.
Playing together in the final group at the Moonah Links Open Course on Friday, Crabtree (70) held a two-stroke lead with three holes to play before a two-shot swing on the par-4 16th.
As Crabtree made bogey, Kobori (69) made birdie, the pair finishing par-birdie to end the 72 holes locked together at 11-under at the top of the leaderboard.
With the winner of Final Stage of Q School earning a better category for the upcoming season, Kobori and Crabtree headed back to the 18th hole, where the 21-year-old Australian Amateur champion came out on top with his second straight birdie on the par 5 finisher.
Winner of the 2019 NZ PGA Championship as a 17-year-old, Kobori will tee it up in the major amateur events in the US from June, look to represent New Zealand at the Eisenhower Trophy in mid-October and then return to Australia for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Then, barring a victory that would open the door to starts at The Masters and The Open Championship, Kobori intends to start his professional career on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“Because I’m playing Asia-Pacific and all that I think I miss a few events at the start of the season so I wasn’t sure how that would set me up for re-rank,” Kobori said.
“Hopefully I should be right now.”
Kazuma, the younger brother of Momoka Kobori, who won the Women’s NSW Open at Tuncurry last month and was a two-time winner on the LET Access Series in 2022 to earn promotion to the Ladies European Tour in 2023.
Given his success in professional events to date – he was tied sixth at the NZ Open and tied fourth at the NZ PGA in early March – Kobori says that seeing his sister succeed is another indicator that he will be ready when the time comes to go pro.
“She was always someone that I tried to beat growing up and we used to follow basically the same training schedule,” said Kobori.
“Watching someone who does the same training as you succeed, it gives you more confidence that you’re on the right track.”
Three other Kiwis played themselves inside the top six on the leaderboard, earning some great status of their own.
Sung Jin Yeo finished third after a horror start, shooting 76, 70, 64, and 68 to finish a shot back of Kobori. Kit Bittle finished seven under following rounds of 68, 69, 70, and 74, while Rhys Thomas finished in a share of sixth at five under, finishing with rounds of 70, 70, 71, and 72.
Tyler Wood also finished inside the top 30 who earn status for the 2023/2024 season, shooting 71, 74, 74, and 70 to finish in a share of 27th at one over.
The first chance players will have to earn points in the 2023/2024 season will be the returning PNG Open at Royal Port Moresby Golf Club from May 4-7.