Christchurch, New Zealand: Hiroki Miya once more displayed his liking for Clearwater Golf Club’s award-winning course with an emphatic victory in the fourth Faldo Series New Zealand Championship.
For the second year in succession, Miya made himself at home at the venue that has been named as New Zealand’s Best Golf Course and the Best Course in Oceania at the World Golf Awards.
Never looking back after an expertly-crafted opening 68, the 17-year-old followed up with rounds of 71 and 68 to sweep to a seven-stroke success from second-placed Amelia Garvey in the 12th leg of the Faldo Series Asia season.
With a three-round aggregate of nine-under-par 207 in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) event, Miya has assured himself a return trip to Vietnam in March for the 12th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang.
There, the Russley Golf Club member with a handicap index of +2.2 will be looking to improve on his performance in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final where he finished equal seventh in the Boys’ Under-16 category and joint 19th overall.
Also seeking success for New Zealand in Vietnam will be fellow Canterbury natives Garvey (Girls’ Division winner) and Kazuma Kobori (Boys’ Under-16 winner).
Garvey, who represented New Zealand in this year’s Asia Pacific Women’s Amateur Team Championship for the Queen Sirikit Cup and has risen to 349th in the WAGR, was determined to give herself another shot at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final after suffering the disappointment of losing out on a countback to Japan’s Minori Nagano in the Girls’ Under-16 division in 2017.
But the 17-year-old who has secured a golf scholarship to the University of Southern California next year was made to work hard by Juliana Hung and Lee Jeong-hyun.
Thanks to a closing 73, Garvey prevailed with a two-under 214 total to retain her Faldo Series New Zealand Championship Girls’ title, two ahead of past winner Hung and three in front of Lee, one of New Zealand’s most exciting young golfing prospects.
There was also a close contest in the Boys’ Under-16 category. One shot behind pace-setting Oliver Merritt heading into the final round, Kobori, winner of the Victorian Boys’ Championship in Australia in September, signed off with a solid 73 while Merritt stuttered to an 82.
That turnaround meant Kobori posted a two-shot win from Cameron Harlock and Hayato Miya – Hiroki’s younger brother.
Andrew Bell, General Manager of Clearwater Golf Club, said: “This year’s contest brought together our lowest ever handicap range of young players, and involved players from more clubs from throughout New Zealand than previous years. I’m very pleased for Rachel Thow at Canterbury Golf who works so hard to get our young golfers out on course and into the game, as well as working on the high performance development as needed.”
Bell also thanked the event’s principal sponsors Todd and Marion Heller who, along with two other Clearwater members, were supporters of the first event four years ago, and have again provided support to ensure the winners can travel to Vietnam.
“We are very grateful to Todd and Marion for their support, along with that of New Zealand Golf Inc. This investment in Canterbury junior golf and this event is something that Todd and Marion do out of pure generosity.”
The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.