MELBOURNE, Australia – An injured Alessandra Christine “Ella” Nagayo struggled all week and finished 8th in the Girls Under 14 division of the tough 2017 Victorian Boys and Girls Championships at Yarra Yarra Golf Club on Friday.
The 13-year old Dabawenya nicknamed “Swingderella”, who is on golf scholarship in Australia, carded a four day total 336 in the finals featuring the best junior golfers around Victoria. The daughter of former city councilor and now Labor Attache to Australia Rachel Zozobrado-Nagayo and golfing businessman Danny, also finished joint 31st overall, not bad for one who played with a hip injury.
“She really wanted to play. I told her it’s okay not to play but she insisted. Ella did her best despite her condition and I am proud of her results,” said father Danny.
Younger brother Daaniel caddied for the first time for Ella.
“I am happy to carry the bag for Ate,” said Daniel who was set to play in the Stuart Appleby Rookie Series in Sanctuary Lakes.
For the second year running all four tournament days were held at the famed Yarra Yarra without a cut, ensuring all players four rounds of competition golf.
With the wind howling, it proved to be a challenging week of golf with just three sub-70 scores.
New Zealand’s Kazuma Kobori and Bella Kil of New South Wales took the overall boys and girls titles.
The boys contest was tight heading into the final round with five players within three shots of overnight leader Jye Pickin.
Kobori started the day even further back, trailing Pickin by five strokes with 18 holes to play.
With the pressure off, Kobori kept his head down and eyes off the leaderboard, eventually carding the lowest round of the day, a 3-under 69, to finish one shot clear of the field.
The 15-year-old dual member of Pegasus and Rangiora Golf Clubs will be travelling home with excess baggage, after taking out the under-16 trophy as well.
Kil managed to extend her lead to six strokes early in the fourth round but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
With only a few holes to play Kil’s lead had vanished, opening the door for fellow New South Welshwoman June Song.
One group ahead, Song had levelled with Kil however a bogey on the last kept Kil in front.
After Kil slid her birdie putt 4-foot past the hole, the door wasn’t closed yet. But with composure beyond her years Kil rolled in a par to avoid a three-way playoff and to claim the title by one shot.
Royal Melbourne’s Seve Jones shot 69 in the second round, Connor McDade with the same score in the third round and eventual champion Kobori with 69 today.
A staggering 50 players were balloted out of the tournament which received a record-high number of entries including 47 Interstate players and 16 international players from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.
Kil’s name will be engraved alongside the likes of Burtta Cheney (1935), Margaret Masters (1951–54), Lindy Goggin (1969), Rachel Hetherington (1991), Su Oh (2008 and ’10) and last year’s champion Alizza Hetherington. While Kobori joins Kevin Hartley (1951), Ian Stanley (1966), Bob Shearer (1963), Marc Leishman (2001), Bryden Macpherson (2007) and Todd Sinnott (2009).