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Champions Go Wire-To-Wire At South Island Age Groups

Robby Turnbull, Chloe Lam, Ricky Kang, and Lannie Inoue have lived up to their pre-tournament hype, going wire-to-wire to win their respective age brackets at the South Island Age Group Championships at Otago Golf Club.

The reigning New Zealand Stroke Play champion Robby Turnbull added another national title to his mantelpiece, leading after every round to win the Under-19 Boys division by a couple of shots at even par after shooting rounds of 66, 75, and 72, beating Brodie Ferguson and Yuki Miya who finished joint second.

After his success at Paraparaumu a few weeks ago, Turnbull said his expectations changed heading into this week’s event, and he quickly had to adapt to a challenging golf course to get over the line.

“I always love coming down here and playing Balmacewan. It’s good to get a win at a track I really enjoy.

“I came into the week with some high expectations. To be honest, it wasn’t the greatest mindset to come in with because Balmacewan can easily ruin your round in a couple of holes. I just tried to stay focused and steady.”

Turnbull stuck to his game plan and made a birdie and a couple of bogeys in his opening nine despite the barrage of birdies that Miya was throwing at him. Turnbull entered the back nine two shots behind and was able to make key birdies and pars when Miya slipped with bogeys, flipping the tournament back in his favour midway through the back nine.

He parred his way in from the 15th to win.

His fellow Remuera Golf Club member Chloe Lam won the Under-19 Girls division by seven shots over North Island Women’s Stroke Play champion Emma Zheng, with Japan’s Mikana Suto finishing with the bronze medal.

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Lam shot 74, 74, and 73 to go wire-to-wire, finishing two-over-par for the tournament. Like Turnbull, her final round wasn’t smooth sailing as she bogeyed her opening two holes today to reduce her lead to a shot, but steadied the ship with birdies at three and five to restore a comfortable lead heading into the back nine.

Lam has happy memories at Otago Golf Club. She made the semi finals of the New Zealand Amateur in 2022, and saw countless putts drop on the small Otago greens in the first couple of rounds. Her putting continued to save her as she made a further three birdies and a couple of bogeys on her way back to the clubhouse to win, and was excited to have ticked off a milestone she’s been working towards.

“I’ve been working towards a national title for a long time now, so to finally win one is pretty cool.”

“I bogeyed my first two holes and I think it was pretty close between Emma and I. I was getting quite nervous after that, but I just told myself to start playing a little safer as I was playing quite aggressively to start.

“I wanted to extend my lead early on so I didn’t have as much pressure coming down the stretch, but after the first couple of holes, I needed to change the gameplan and just take it one shot at a time.”

In the Under-16 Boys division, Ricky Kang also led from start to finish, winning by a gargantuan seven-shots after consistent scores of 67, 71, and 69, finishing six-under-par. Japan’s Kanichiro Katano and Remuera’s Ishaan Shah finished in second and third with a one-over and five-over-par total respectively.

Kang came out of the gates quickly, opening four birdies in his opening nine to have one hand on the trophy. He avoided any disasters coming home, making three bogeys and a further birdie to sign of a final solid round for the week.

He says he’s extremely elated to have won his first national title.

“I felt pretty good going into the tournament. I was excited and kind of nervous heading into today – I’m just happy I got it done.

“I stuck to my routine and tried my best to calm down after every shot.”

Finally, Japan’s Lannie Inoue also led from the beginning to the end, winning by three shots after shooting 72, 71, and 79 to finish on a three-over total.

Juwon Kin and Yoonae Jeong share the silver medal, both finishing their tournaments strongly with three and two-under round respectively, finishing on six-over for the tournament.

© Scoop Media

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