Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Defending Champ Kobori Set to Shine on the Central Coast

Momoka Kobori interrupted her maiden season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) last year to visit Australia. It was a detour that proved lucrative with a win at the Women’s NSW Open at Foster-Tuncurry Golf Club, and a a share of fourth at Bonville in the Australian Women’s Classic.

Fast-forward to 2024, and the Kiwi is again back down under for the back-to-back tournaments, which this year are co-sanctioned by the LET and the WPGA Tour of Australasia.

Noting the influx of overseas players meant her “defending champion” title may not feel the same as it normally would when the 54-hole event kicks off on Friday.

“Honestly, it doesn’t really feel like I am defending,” Kobori said.

“Last year was great because we had an event even though it wasn’t LET co-sanctioned. I suppose I am defending, but I am going into this week like another LET event.

The LET presence has created a truly international feel this week at Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club, which is hosting the tournament for the first time.

There are 36 nationalities represented, with 26 LET winners, including the reigning Order of Merit champion Trichat Cheenglab, two-time Women’s NSW Open Champ Meghan MacLaren and World No.76 Anne Van Dam.

Kobori was excited about the prospect of catching up with her LET colleagues, but perhaps more so the members of the WPGA, where she cut her teeth as a professional.

“At the start of the year when we found out what the schedule was going to be, having these two events back here, it was definitely going to be the favourite events this year,” she said.

“Even this week just seeing everyone from the LET, everyone from Aussie, it’s been good to catch up with everyone and have all the European girls come over to this part of the world.”

According to the 25-year-old, the location on the Central Coast of New South Wales and the design of the Ross Watson layout are helpful elements for the local chances.

“I think it is always an advantage being able to play in your home country, or home Tour,” she said.

“Some of these Australian courses can be a little bit different, a little bit extra figuring out to do as opposed to some of the courses we see over in Europe. It is probably going to be a little bit of an advantage for the Aussie girls.”

Also hoped to prove an advantage for the New Zealander is the increasing sibling rivalry with younger brother, Kazuma.

The younger Kobori has wasted no time since turning professional late last year with three wins on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, enough to help him to claim the Order of Merit title and playing rights on the DP World Tour in 2025.

His success, including a first win as a pro on the Murray River where Momoka was runner-up, created a little extra motivation for the start of her season.

“There is always that competition side of things where you kind of always want to have the most recent win, or the most recent good result,” Kobori said.

“It is quite cool to have someone like that in the family to compete with and obviously know what you’re going through as a Tour professional and vice versa. Pretty special and pretty lucky.”

The unique relationship between Australians Minjee and Min Woo Lee may also help create a recipe for success.

“I’ve kind of started to figure out what my blueprint for having a good result is. For me consistency is the key … so keeping it in play and trying to hit as many greens as I can, compile fairways and greens and then if some of the putts drop, that’s great.”

The third and fourth rounds will be shown LIVE on 7plus from 12:30 pm AEDT.

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