04 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |

Momoka magic mesmerises Rosebud

by Dane Heverin

Momoka Kobori in action.

New Zealander Momoka Kobori has continued her stunning form to stand alone at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of TPS Victoria at Rosebud Country Club today.

Kobori, 22, followed up yesterday’s six-under par effort with a five-under round of 66 to be one stroke clear of the chasing pack of overnight leader Scott Arnold, Rosebud local James Marchesani, PGA Tour winner Andre Stolz and 21-year-old amateur Kelsey Bennett.

Kobori, 22, followed up yesterday’s six-under par effort with a five-under round of 66 to be one stroke clear of nine players who are tied for second.

The logjam consists of overnight leader Scott Arnold, Rosebud local James Marchesani, PGA Tour winner Andre Stolz, 21-year-old amateur Kelsey Bennett, Novacastrian Aaron Townsend, Victorian Blake Collyer, Sydneysider Daniel Gale and Ladies European Tour winner Lydia Hall.

The bright sunshine and calm morning conditions allowed the morning groups to hunt birdies, while the afternoon groups battled strong winds.

Kobori, who teed off at 8:00 am, began the day one shot back from playing partner Arnold and she took full advantage of the favourable weather with four birdies in the opening seven holes.

Another two birdies came on the back nine and an eagle at the 455m par-5 15th took her to 13-under with a sizable lead.

“On the front nine, I was pretty good. I was pretty happy. I gave myself quite a few chances to make birdie within 15 feet or so,” she said.

“I did have an eagle out there again which is always a bonus. It went pretty smoothly out there so I’m very happy.”

She appeared to be unstoppable at that stage, but a slip up came at the 16th.

Her third shot on the 475m par-5 found the green side bunker and she blasted the next shot over the back.

From there, she was unable to get up-and-down and the resulting double bogey halted her momentum.

She made two pars to finish, which she saved with some short game magic as the camera rolled, ensured the lead remained hers.

“I wasn’t even aware that there was filming so that was probably a good thing,” Kobori said with a laugh.

In her playing group, Arnold’s two-under par round was enough to keep him in the hunt, while another powerful pairing went to work on the opposite nine.

It was a showdown of experience and young talent as Andre Stolz, 51, and Bennett shot rounds of 65 and 64 respectively.

Stolz, who has won eleven times in his professional career and has recovered from heart attack suffered five months ago, carded seven birdies, while Bennett incredibly made two eagles along with her five birdies.

Bennett has triumphed three times on the amateur circuit and she is thrilled to now be showing her prowess amongst professionals.

“It’s so nice to play with pros. I had Dave (David Brandson) and Stolzy today and yesterday. They’re fantastic. They both had six-under today,” she said.

“So it was really nice to play with other people who are playing just as well.”

James Marchesani also joined the second place pack from the morning field as he shot a five-under par round of 66 playing alongside his brother and in front of his fellow Rosebud Country Club members.

He was not accepting any bragging rights over his sibling however.

“He’s not playing a heap of golf anymore but it is nice to have him out there,” Marchesani said. 

“We’ve played thousands and thousands of rounds here so it was good to share a couple of rounds with him.

“It was good to see the members out. The local support is great. I’ve been here for 20 years so I’m starting to grow into the carpet now.”

The round of the day also came in the morning. Kiwi Ben Campbell shot an eight-under par round of 63 to match Scott Arnold’s course record from yesterday on the new composite course.

In the afternoon, Aaron Townsend went close to matching the mark as he carded a seven-under par round in arguably the toughest conditions of the day.

Townsend, 40, downplayed his brilliance and put his bogey free round that included seven birdies down to a bit of luck.

“I got some crosswinds which helped me. It felt like it was always suiting my shot shapes,” he said.

“I knew what the morning scores were, but I had no idea what was going on in the afternoon. So it’s very nice to be in the hunt.”

Blake Collyer and Daniel Gale on the other hand did not find the winds to their liking, but the duo still managed six birdies each.

The pair even found themselves level with Kobori with two holes to play, but the par-3 eighth – they started on the tenth tee – unstuck them.

The last to join the logjam was Welshwoman Lydia Hall. The Ladies European Tour regular also had the course record in her sights as she shot a seven-under par round which included eight birdies.

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