Earlier this year Momoka Kobori made her debut on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in the double-header in Australia.
The New Zealander competed in the co-sanctioned events with the WPGA with results of T14 at the Australian Women’s Classic and T12 at the Women’s NSW Open.
And it was only just over ten years ago when Kobori first played the game alongside her brother back in her homeland.
“I started playing golf at the age of 12 with my brother,” she said. “A couple of the members at the golf club in my town were running after-school golf programs for juniors, and that’s how we first got into it.
“Along the road as a junior, I had multiple chances to watch the best in the world play the game and how they inspire everyone coming to watch and knew that I wanted to be out where they are one day and do what they do.
“I decided to pursue a career as a professional golfer when I was about 15, but it was a fair bit down the road that I really developed a passion for the challenges the game brings and the power to inspire people through the game.”
Representing New Zealand is something Kobori relished throughout her amateur career, and she also attended Pepperdine University playing college golf.
After turning professional in early 2021, the New Zealander got in the winner’s circle at the TPS Hunter Valley before playing the LET events in April.
She added: “I think a lot of my great memories as an amateur come from the times I competed as part of the New Zealand team, and during my time competing on the golf team at Pepperdine University.
“We often don’t get the chance to compete as a team in golf, so it doesn’t happen too often anymore, but I always loved the aspect of representing your team, your school and your country.
“When I turned professional in 2021, travelling was still quite restricted due to Covid. So, I wanted to be able to compete on the NZPGA circuit as a professional. Luckily there are quite a few tournaments for us to play in, and the competition against both the guys and girls was great.
“My first LET event was in Australia where I managed to play as part of the WPGA in Australia which was a great opportunity for me to be able to test myself against the players on LET as I hadn’t been able to do before that.”
A few months later, Kobori headed to Europe to play on the LET Access Series (LETAS) and won in her first start securing victory at the Montauban Ladies Open.
In her rookie season, the 23-year-old went on to secure another victory in France, this time at the Hauts De France – Pas de Calais Golf Open, and seven further top-10 finishes.
This ensured the two-time LETAS winner ended the season in third place in the Order of Merit and secured her LET card for 2023.
And Kobori is appreciative of the people she met while playing in Europe in the summer and has plenty of ambitions for the future.
“There is so much I learned from playing on LETAS,” she continued. “I learned a lot about living on the road and managing myself around the travel and the tournament schedules, but I think the biggest one is the importance of having good people around you.
“I was so lucky to meet some amazing people this year in Europe, and honestly, I think my year would have felt and looked very different had I not been so lucky with the people I managed to meet and get to know.
“Over the next few years, my goal is to make my way onto the LPGA, as that’s where I would ultimately like to compete. Another big one coming up for me is to compete for New Zealand in the 2024 Olympics.”
- What do you love about golf?
I love that you never quite master the game and that it’s always an ongoing journey to improve your technique and skill.
- What’s your earliest golfing memory?
Playing in a nine-hole junior golf tournament in our district among juniors aged between six to 16 when I was 12. It was my first ever golf competition.
- What are you looking forward to most about next year?
I’m looking forward to playing all the new events on the LET and playing courses that I haven’t before. I always love seeing a course for the first time, so I’m definitely looking forward to that next year.
- Three words to describe your golfing journey so far.
A Rollercoaster Ride!