Ricky joins elite group

Inside Golf - - Junior golf - David New­bery

NSW ju­nior Ricky Kato joined an elite group of golfers when he won the School Sports Aus­tralia Golf Cham­pi­onship in Ade­laide re­cently.

Kato joins Aus­tralian stars Ge­off Ogilvy and Ja­son Day as win­ners of the stroke­play ti­tle.

It was Kato’s sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory in the 36-hole cham­pi­onship, which was played at Tea Tree Gully golf Club just north of Ade­laide.

The NSW team cap­tain carded rounds of 68-70 – four-un­der­par – to win by three strokes from Queens­land’s Kade McBride (65-76) and Vic­to­rian James Ban­nan (70-71).

He is only the sec­ond boy to win the cham­pi­onship more than once.

Kato also led the NSW team to vi c t or y in t he match­play cham­pi­onship played at Murray Bridge, Flagstaff Hill and the Grange golf clubs.

NSW re­turned a score of 570 – 10 ahead of run­ners-up South Aus­tralia.

In the match­play, Kato won four of his five matches play­ing num­ber one in the team.

Af­ter the cham­pi­onship, Kato was named cap­tain of the School Sports Aus­tralia merit team. Past cap­tains in­clude Ogilvy, Day, Adam Scott and Aaron Bad­de­ley.

Ear­lier this year the 17-year-old, who at­tends Bal­go­wlah High School, fi nished fourth in the Aus­tralian Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship.

Now he is ey­ing off a schol­ar­ship at an Amer­i­can univer­sity.

He started play­ing golf as an eightyear-old and has won move than 50 ju­nior tour­na­ments in NSW.

His long-time coach Shuri Ya­su­daHines said Kato was an ac­cu­rate ball-striker.

“His swing is re­ally good now, so I am just mak­ing sure he keeps good rhythm. We are also spend­ing a lot of time work­ing on his short game and putting.”

A quiet, unas­sum­ing young­ster, Kato lists South African Retief Goosen as his favourite player.

“I try to be like him be­cause he’s quiet and doesn’t get an­gry.”

The + 2 marker plays out of Bon­nie Doon and Cam­meray golf clubs.

Mean­while, the girls teams’ event was won by Queens­land with a score of 611 – 11 clear of run­ners-up NSW.

Queens­land’s Jes­sica Park fired a course record 67 en route to win­ning her third con­sec­u­tive in­di­vid­ual girls ti­tle. She fin­ished with a 138 to­tal – 10 shots clear of run­ner-up An­nie Choi of Queens­land.

Ricky Kato (cen­tre) with the win­ning NSW team

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