Outside the Ropes with Kobayashi

Wed 16 Jan 2013

Outside the Ropes with Kobayashi

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Kuala Lumpur, January 16: Masanori Kobayashi’s career is soaring to new heights on the Asian Tour which mirrors the first golf shot he struck.
Like most Japanese teenagers, Kobayashi aspired to become a professional baseball player but switched allegiance to golf when his uncle introduced him to the game when he was 13.
Kobayashi needed to strike only one shot at the driving range for his fate to be sealed. “It was when I hit the golf ball for the first time. I hit it very well and the ball flew further than a baseball strike. That’s what got me hooked to golf,” he said.
After hitting his ‘homerun’ golf shot, there was no turning back for Kobayashi as he spent most of his professional career developing his game in Japan before making the big move to join the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2012.
The decision paid huge dividends as he posted one top-10 finish at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters presented by PNTS before going on to claim an emotional victory at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open on home soil in his rookie season.
“I have played many golf courses on the Asian Tour, some are extremely narrow while some are wide. We had a chance to play in many different countries. The Asian Tour has given me the exposure that I’m not able to experience in Japan,” said Kobayashi, who also qualified for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic from his Order of Merit rankings.
“It was my goal to play on the Asian Tour but I also wanted a victory in Japan. As the Panasonic Open is a co-sanctioned event, winning on both Tours at one go is like a dream come true and I’m very happy.”
Victory propelled him into the top-10 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit which earned him a spot in the lucrative US$6.1 million CIMB Classic sanctioned by the Asian Tour and US PGA Tour.
With his confidence soaring, Kobayashi was in contention at the Thailand Golf Championship but faded with a final round 75 to settle for tied 22nd place. His momentum spilled into the season-ending Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia which he needed a win to have an outside chance of winning the Order of Merit.
But with Thaworn Wiratchant making the halfway cut and putting on another consistent showing with a top-10 finish, Kobayashi settled for tied fifth place in the US$2 million event and a commendable fourth place on the final Order of Merit with a season’s haul of US$471,079. He was later named Rookie of the Year for 2012.
With the new season starting in 2013, Kobayashi is eager to prove that he truly is one of Asia’s best players. After all, how many players can boast of hitting his first ever golf shot which flew farther than a baseball strike?
To watch the Asian Tour Golf Show video with Kobayashi, please visit: http://www.asiantour.com/videos.aspx
Ends.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.