Manukau Courier : January 28th 2014
26 MANUKAU COURIER, JANUARY 28, 2014 www.manukaucourier.co.nz Golfer’s win takes parents by surprise By ALAN APTED February 5 can’t come soon enough for Seungwoo Koh and his wife Boksoon. That’s the day their son Tae Koh will be welcomed home to Papakura by family and friends as the Australian Amateur Golf Champion. ‘‘We will have a big party for him,’’ his dad says. ‘‘We never expected he will be champion. We are so happy, so proud of him.’’ Neither did his coach Peter Kyunghoon Kim or anyone at the Manukau Golf Club where Koh built his game. The 19-year-old former Rosehill College student only left school last year. He has a handful of tournament wins under his belt and did make back-to-back semifinals of the New Zealand Amateur Championship in 2012 and 2013. But he was never con- sidered talented enough to lick Australia’s best young golfers the way he did at the Grange Golf Course in Adelaide on January 19. He beat the highly touted Western Australian Curtis Luck 6 and 5 in their 36-hole final. In golfing terms that’s a spanking. It means the match was abandoned with five holes to play with Koh six shots ahead and Luck with no chance of making a comeback. The margin of victory was the most emphatic in the history of a tournament that was first played for in 1894. Koh’s parents watched his every stoke online. They were glued to their computer for all four days of the tournament. Amateur win: Tae Koh shows off the trophy he got for winning the Australian Amateur Championship at The Grange Golf Course in Adelaide. ‘‘We were lucky – it was school holidays so no work,’’ say the commercial cleaners who settled in Papakura from Seoul, Korea, in 2001 when Tae was only six years old. ‘‘After the 16th, I knew he could win. It was absolutely exciting.’’ Koh was four up at the time. Kim, Koh’s coach for the past four years, is as flabbergasted as any. ‘‘I never expected him to win. I think his experience of winning three tournaments in New Zealand and playing in the semifinal of the New Zealand Amateur Championship two times helped him.’’ The coach thought Kim’s size would count against him. ‘‘He is only small, maybe 60kg. That’s why I think he can’t do it.’’ But he reckons Koh is strong all round – he has a good drive, is accurate off the tee, is solid with the irons and has a mean short game. And because of his size coach and player worked hard on Tofilau urges teens to set their sights high By ARAH CODDINGTON When aspiring rugby star Sasa Tofilau is on the field two things are driving him to succeed. The first is his mother Sapi, and the second is his girlfriend Tarrantina Tuliloa who is in the under21 New Zealand netball squad and Mystics development squad. They are also the reason he decided to return to his Mangere home after living in Australia for four years. At just 15, he took up a three-year scholarship with the Brisbane Broncos. Last year he was con- tracted to the Gold Coast Titans under-20s squad for the 2013-2014 season. He’d started pre-season training with the Titans but in March he came back to New Zealand on holiday and never returned. Tofilau came home to care for his sick mother, who has liver problems. He’s put his NRL dream on hold while he cares for ❛ ‘‘We are watching him pretty closely. He is a relatively green player but is already showing potential.’’ The Samoan-born teen- Just go hard. I set goals every week I have to achieve and that’s how I keep myfocus. – Sasa Tofilau his mum and has switched to rugby union. ‘‘I always want to provide for my mum. I went and worked in a factory in Papatoetoe for six months to help her,’’ he says. The 19-year-old played for Grammar Carlton rugby club last year and is now on a trial contract with Auckland Rugby Union’s High Performance Academy. Academy manager Ben Meyer says Tofilau is a talented player. ager has always been naturally gifted at sport. At school he was a sprint champion, having once clocked 11.40sec over 100 metres. He has dreams of returning to Australia one day but says now his girlfriend’s career is taking off he needs to let her succeed here. He urges other teenagers to go for their ambitions in life and never stop visualising their dream. ‘‘Just go hard. I set goals every week I have to achieve and that’s how I keep my focus.’’ Bright future: Sasa Tofilau is back in Mangere after playing rugby league in Australia. He is contracted to the Auckland Rugby Union’s High Performance Academy. Photo: SARAH CODDINGTON speeding up his swing. ‘‘I told him to believe in himself, trust his swing and stick to your routine,’’ Kim says. But there was one person who believed that Koh would one day deliver. ‘‘Tae’s a pretty dedicated young man and has never been far away from the fringes,’’ Manukau Golf Club manager Stewart Halligan says. ‘‘He has always been a top Auckland junior and it’s pretty remarkable for him to win the Australian amateur Photo: PHOTOSPORT title when there are over 200 of the best international, Australian and New Zealand golfers there. ‘‘But to say it’s a surprise ... probably not to me or some of us who see him day in and day out. It was sensational.’’ Koh is renowned at the club for his work ethic, Halligan says. ‘‘A golf course is a desolate place when it’s wet and cold and there is no-one in the car park. But you look out and there is Tae Koh practising.’’ Halligan says his game has benefited from having club and Auckland teammates like Nick Voke, who is now on a golf scholarship at Iowa State University, and Shiv Sabherwal. There was a great camaraderie between the three Auckland team-mates, Halligan says. ‘‘They played in many tournaments together, spent lots of time practising together and pushed each other to excel.’’ Members at the Manukau club are over the moon with Koh’s win. Halligan says it’s pay-off for all the donations and raffle tickets members bought so Koh and Voke could attended tournaments over the years. There was one person from the Manukau club who witnessed Koh’s win close up and who’ll be able to relive the final for members. It was Devon Mason who with brother Todd, runs the proshop at the Manukau Golf Club. ‘‘Devon’s has always had a bit of a hankering to be a caddy,’’ Halligan says. ‘‘So to be able to take Tae through an event such as that and win the Australian Amateur is sensational.’’ And there was one aspect of Koh’s win that has the Manukau members gloating. Koh was wearing his Manukau Golf Club shirt whenhewon. ‘‘That photo will take pride of place at the club,’’ Halligan says. Koh played in the Lake McQuarry Championships last week and will play in the New South Wales Amateur Championship this week before returning home to Papakura.
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