Aucklander Tae Koh makes history in Adelaide

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Auckland teenager Tae Koh joined a select few New Zealand golfers at The Grange in Adelaide yesterday when he became the first Kiwi male to claim the Australian Amateur Championships since Michael Campbell in 1992.

Koh clearly had no intention of labouring in typically energy-sapping conditions in South Australia - the 19-year-old from the Manukau Golf Club had the title secured when he halved the 31st of 36 allotted holes with Western Australian Curtis Luck.

Koh's 6 and 5 victory was among the most emphatic in the history of a tournament first won by a New Zealander in 1899, when CES Gillies was crowned.

The right-hander, who survived a heavy workload on Saturday when winning his quarter and semifinal, set the tone for a lopsided final when he birdied the opening hole.

Koh then doubled his advantage on the next with a par, and by the halfway point of the opening 18-hole circuit accurate iron play and efficient putting had built him a four-hole advantage.

Luck rallied briefly on the back nine to reduce the margin to two but Koh finished strongly, birdieing 16 and 17 to reassert his dominance.

The Australian, who entered the competition in form after winning the Victorian Junior Masters earlier this month, needed to start the second round in style but it was Koh who built an impregnable six-hole margin by claiming the 20th and 23rd holes.

Luck delayed the inevitable by trimming the margin to five with a mini-success on the 28th but his joy was again short-lived as Koh promptly won the next to make the outcome a virtual formality.

Emulating the feats of Gillies and Campbell is comfortably the most significant victory of Koh's career.

He had made the semifinals in the two previous New Zealand Amateur Championships and credited those setbacks with focusing him on his assignment this week.

"Just being in that position before and knowing what I did wrong last time really helped," said Koh, who has won three regional titles though nothing at national level.

Koh's aim before the final was to press for selection in New Zealand Golf's high performance national academy - so he could not have entered a handier reference to his CV.

Meanwhile, in the women's competition Waikato's Chantelle Cassidy's dream of following in the footsteps of 2012 champion Lydia Ko ended at the quarterfinal stage on Saturday.

Scotland-born 15-year-old Queenslander Karis Davidson was too clinical for the reigning New Zealand strokeplay champion, winning 5 and 3.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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