Kazuma Kobori and Christiaan Maas were locked in a battle when they came to the 17th hole at North Shore Country Club.
The duo were in the final stages of playing their sixth round of golf in three days, this one being for the Western Amateur title in Glenview, Illinois. Kobori, a 21-year-old from New Zealand, also had an Elite Amateur Series championship on the line.
Maas, a rising sophomore at Texas from South Africa, bogeyed the par-4 17th, giving Kobori a 1 up lead. However, on the 18th hole, Kobori drilled a 20-footer for birdie allowing him to capture the 121st Western Amateur title on Saturday, claiming one of the biggest events in amateur golf.
“For me to be holding this (trophy) right now is unreal,” Kobori said. “I was pretty nervous, and thought I’d try to give it a run. Christiaan putted so well all day I figured I needed to give it a go and I’m just glad it went in.”
With the victory, it also gives Kobori the 2023 Elite Amateur Series title, meaning myriad rewards. He will earn a PGA Tour exemption to be announced, an exemption into the 2023 U.S. Amateur, one 2024 Korn Ferry Tour start and an exemption into final qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open. Alabama’s Nick Dunlap led by seven points heading into the Western Amateur. Dunlap fell in the quarterfinals of match play.
Kobori finished ninth after 72 holes of stroke play. He knocked out Mac McClear and then Carson Bacha on Friday to advance to the semifinal round Saturday morning. There, he took care of 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Matthew McClean 6 and 5, then he survived Saturday afternoon to win 1 up.