[Photo: Kurt Thomson/Kurtogram]

No one ever described Tiger Woods’ game as ‘consistent’. Given Woods held the No.1 world ranking for 683 weeks – including 281 weeks straight – and made 142 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour, perhaps we should have.

‘Consistent’, though, is just not very sexy.

It verges on boring.

Ask golfers to sum up Tiger Woods in one word and you’re more likely to hear ‘thrilling’, ‘explosive’, ‘fearless’ and ‘box office’. (Yes, I know, that’s two words.)

But ask those who have spent the summer finishing second to Kazuma Kobori on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia and you invariably get the same response: ‘Consistent’.

For a player with three wins in his first 10 starts as a professional – Hello, Mr Woods – and all but a lock for a DP World Tour card heading into this week’s New Zealand Open, it’s not meant as a slight.

It’s simply an admission that from tee-to-green he is all but flawless… and that he makes more putts than he misses.

In statistics provided by Matt Green of GreenForm Golf, Kobori is 109-under par this season in just nine events. (The next best is Brett Coletta at 86-under par.)

His average-to-par per round of -3.41 is 1.45 shots better than Coletta and he is ranked first in Back 9 Strokes Gained with +1.58.

It has been the hallmark of an amateur career that includes wins at the Australian Amateur, PGA Tour of Australasia Q School, Western Amateur in the US and individual honours at the Eisenhower Trophy… all in the past 14 months.

So, when those who have seen the 22-year-old play from close quarters – Ashley Lau, Jeffrey Guan and Kerry Mountcastle – describe his game as ‘consistent’, Kobori takes it as a compliment.

“It’s something that I’ve always had actually, consistency,” says Kobori, who is coached by Golf New Zealand National Coach, Jay Carter.

“As an amateur growing up, I was never one to really shoot the lights out. I was always cruising around 2-under, 3-under and over the course of a tournament I might get just under 10-under.

“Some weeks that’s OK, some weeks you get blown out by 15.

“It’s something that I have always had and for that to turn into a strength is very cool to see for me.”

Those who veer ever so slightly from the script use words that any rookie professional would love to be associated with.

Reigning Order of Merit champion David Micheluzzi – who also won three times in his breakout season last year – saw a side to Kobori that few others have when they were paired together in the final round of the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links.

On that Sunday, Kobori began the day six shots clear but, in just his second start after turning professional, shot 77 to Micheluzzi’s 68 to end the day three back.

Now in his fifth year since turning pro himself, Micheluzzi saw enough to label Kobori’s game in a way that should also serve him well.


It’s a quality that the 22-year-old hopes to tap into again this week at the Millbrook Resort.

Low amateur in a top-10 finish 12 months ago, Kobori knows that Millbrook presents something of a different challenge to anything he has faced thus far this summer.

“It’s going to require a bit more discipline,” admitted the winner of Webex Players Series events at Cobram Barooga Golf Club, Rosebud Country Club and Castle Hill Country Club.

“There are certain places (at Millbrook) where if you miss it, I don’t care if you have the best short game in the world, you’re not getting up and down.

“I’ve talked to my coach, Jay Carter, and we’ve figured out a plan for this week and how we can prepare best.”

But perhaps the final word – literally – belongs to the person who knows his game best.

Although they are rarely in the same postcode these days, Momoka and Kazuma Kobori have grown up playing against each other.

They went head to head first on the Charles Tour in New Zealand and now the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia, with bragging rights split.

So how does Momoka – and anyone who saw his putt on the 72nd hole at Rosebud – describe his game in one word?


Much more Tiger-like.