Tae Koh – an important professional breakthrough for the former Australian Amateur champion
In 2013 New Zealand’s Tae Koh became just the third New Zealander to win the Australian Amateur Championship when defeating Australian Curtis Luck in the final.
Normally, such a victory would be the likely catalyst for a successful professional career but for Koh that milestone victory at The Grange in Adelaide has not resulted in any real success in the professional ranks, until now that is.
Other than two top tens in PGA Tour of Korea events and an 8th place finish at the NSW Open there has not been a lot to get excited about but today he achieved a likely turning point in his career when he stormed home over the final round of the $100,000 New Zealand PGA Championship at the Te Puke Golf Club in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island.
Koh has played well in recent domestic events in New Zealand and today he put it all together to secure his most important win in the paid ranks.
The 26 year old’s final round of 61 saw him catch and pass his significantly more credentialed rivals, Ryan Fox and Josh Geary, in a tight battle and emerge as the winner of one of New Zealand’s historic and iconic events.
“It’s a bit of a blur to be honest,” said Koh, “I hit it awesome and probably the best round of my career and in such a prestigious event I am super stoked.”
Koh won by one over Geary and by two over Fox, an eagle at his final hole allowing him the buffer to hold off strong finishes by Geary who birdied four of his last five holes for a round of 65 and Fox who would also eagle the last although for New Zealand’s leading ranked male player it was a case of too little too late.
Koh began the day three behind the lead of Fox and Geary but by the turn had taken the lead. With such credentialed players chasing him the likely scenario might have been for Koh to fall victim to the situation but instead he raced home in 30 to lead in the clubhouse.
Geary, who is from the Bay of Plenty area and who has been working at the Te Puke Golf Club while traveling restrictions have prevented him playing in Europe, stormed home to all but catch his younger rival. It was Geary’s third runner-up finish in the NZPGA Championship.
Geary led after round one, Fox after round two and Geary and Fox had shared the lead through 54 holes.
The 2021 New Zealand PGA Championship was severely impacted by Covid issues essentially restricting the field to domestic players although several Australians took advantage of the New Zealand / Australia bubble to play the event.
The best of the Australians was promising South Australian rookie, Jack Thompson who tied for 7th although 11 shots from the winner.
The event proved a success on what is a regional golf course in New Zealand and allowed such an important title in New Zealand golf to return to the golfing calendar after being cancelled last year due to Covid issues.
Some of New Zealand and the world’s finest players have won the event including Sir Bob Charles, Kel Nagle, Peter Thomson, Jumbo Ozaki, John Lister, Graham Marsh, Frank Nobilo and Greg Turner and to have joined such an elite list might well be the boost the career of Tae Koh needs.