• Kobori chasing family bragging rights and title defence

Momoka Kobori interrupted her maiden season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) last year to visit Australia. A trip that proved lucrative with a win at the 2023 Women’s NSW Open at Foster-Tuncurry Golf Club.

Kobori followed that result with a share of fourth at Bonville Golf Resort, and is once again back Down Under for the fortnight of tournaments that this year are co-sanctioned by the LET and the WPGA Tour of Australasia.

The Kiwi noting the influx of overseas players meaning her title of “defending champion” might not feel the same as it normally would when the 54-hole event kicks off on Friday.

“Honestly, it doesn’t really feel like I am defending,” Kobori said.

“Last year was great because we had an event even though it wasn’t LET co-sanctioned. I guess technically I suppose I am defending, but I am going into this week like just another LET event.”

The LET involvement has made for a truly international feel this week at Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club, which hosts the tournament for the first time.

There are 36 nationalities represented, with 26 LET winners accounting for 42 titles, including the reigning Order of Merit champion Trichat Cheenglab, two-time Women’s NSW Open champion Meghan MacLaren and World No.76 Anne Van Dam.

Kiwi Kobori excited about the prospect of catching up with her LET colleagues, but perhaps more so the members of the WPGA where she cut her teeth as professional.

“At the start of the year when we found out what the schedule was going to be, having these two events back here, it was definitely going to be the favourite events this year,” she said.

“Even this week just seeing everyone from the LET, everyone from Aussie, it’s been good to catch up with everyone and have all the European girls come over to this part of the world.”

The location on the Central Coast of New South Wales, as well as the design of the Ross Watson layout, a helpful element for the local chances according to 25-year-old Kobori.

“I think it is always an advantage being able to play in your home country, or home Tour,” she said.

“Some of these Australian courses can be a little bit different, a little bit extra figuring out to do as opposed to some of the courses we see over in Europe. I think it is probably going to be a little bit of an advantage for the Aussie girls, which for me is a great think.”

Also hoped to prove an advantage for the New Zealander is the increasing sibling rivalry with brother Kazuma.

Turning professional in late 2023, the younger Kobori wasted no time with three wins on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia helping him to claim the Order of Merit and playing rights on the DP World Tour.

His success, including a first win as a pro on the Murray River where Momoka was runner-up, creating a little extra motivation for the start of her season.

“There is always that competition side of things where you kind of always want to have the most recent win, or the most recent good result,” Kobori said.

“It is quite cool to have someone like that in the family to compete with and obviously know what you’re going through as a Tour professional and vice versa. Pretty special and pretty lucky.”

The unique relationship in the mould of Australians Minjee and Min Woo Lee perhaps also helping to create a recipe for success.

“I’ve kind of started to figure out what my blueprint for having a good result is. For me consistency is the key … so keeping it in play and trying to hit as many greens as I can, compile fairways and greens and then if some of the putts drop, that’s great.”

Putts dropping already a regular theme of the Aussie summer for anyone with the surname Kobori.

The second and third rounds will be shown LIVE on 7plus from 12:30pm AEDT.

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