21 Dec 2022 | Industry news |

Kiwi Kobori hunts down Cam Davis at Sandbelt Invitational

by Martin Blake

Momoka Kobori Yarra image
Momoka Kobori explodes from sand on the way to a 68 at Yarra Yarra today. Photo: Paul Shire

New Zealander Momoka Kobori birdied the last three holes to reel in leader Cam Davis at Yarra Yarra today and set up a dual-gender showdown with the Australian at the Sandbelt Invitational on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Kiwi, who will play on the Ladies European Tour in 2023, had trailed by as many as four shots deep into the third round of Geoff Ogilvy’s tournament which sweeps through the sandbelt concluding at Peninsula Kingswood.

The tournament which brings the various strands of the game together – men, women, professionals and amateurs – could not have a better final-day grouping with Kobori threatening to be the first female winner, Davis as the highest-ranked player in the field and David Micheluzzi, a growing force and Peninsula member.

Davis started with a three-shot lead but struggled to a 1-under par 69 today on a tricky Yarra layout with quick greens and a couple of difficult pin positions. Kobori shot a 4-under par 68 playing in the same group.

At 12-under par they are three shots ahead of the closest pursuer, Micheluzzi at 9-under with a gap of another four shots to Queenslander Louis Dobbelaar.

Micheluzzi, a winner on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia already this season, shot the day’s low round, a 64, while Dobbelaar turned in 29 but gave back some ground on the more difficult back nine.

Kobori scarcely missed a shot all day but having started three shots adrift of Davis, the biggest name in the field, she was four back when she bogeyed the par-3 15th hole from a tough spot behind the green.

But she is an impressive player; she almost holed her chip shot for eagle at the par-5 16th hole, birdied the par-4 17th and then wedged in close at the par-5 18th to set up another birdie at the same time that Davis, long and left and short-sided, made a closing bogey.

Kobori is coached by Dom Azzopardi, the Sunshine Coast-based instructor who also is the mentor for Lucas Herbert, and he is also carrying her bag this week.

“He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience,” she said. “He’s been out here a lot longer than I have. It’s definitely been a huge help. I feel like I’m learning a lot from him and it’s nice to be able spend these four days actually with him and having him watch me out on the golf course.”

Davis has made some swing changes recently and came to Melbourne trying to embed them before he returns to the United States next year.

“The course is awesome," he said. "It was a lot of fun playing here. It’s changed so much since I last played here, so there were a lot of new shots for me, but at the same time, I just didn’t have the sharpness today. But under par is still okay. I’ve got some work to do tomorrow.”

“There’s a lot of really good stuff over the last two days; today a couple of things I’m working on didn’t go quite so well. I just need to see a couple of good shots on the range tomorrow with the right feels, and off we go again.”

The first tee-off tomorrow at Peninsula Kingswood’s North course is at 7.30am. Entry is free.


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