Young golfer aims to go pro­fes­sional

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

It may be too early to call Cruize Wawatai the new Michael Camp­bell, but the 18 year old is fol­low­ing in more than a few of the Kiwi golfer’s foot­steps.

Start­ing out in the sport six years ago, Wawatai joined home­town Ti­tahi Golf Club, the same club Camp­bell once played at.

He was coached by Camp­bell’s fa­ther, Tom, be­fore mov­ing to Para­pa­raumu 18 months ago and join­ing the Para­pa­raumu Beach Golf Club.

Ear­lier this month Wawatai won the New Zealand Maori Golf As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual cham­pi­onships in Taupo, an event Camp­bell won in 1991, and which was also won by Phil Tatau­rangi in 1988, 1990 and 1992.

Wawatai said he has com­peted in the event for the past four years, and was close to win­ning the match­play sec­tion two years ago.

‘‘I made the semi­fi­nals two years ago, and made the semi­fi­nals again this year.

‘‘But I won the stroke­play, so that was awe­some.’’

Wawatai took up golf when he was 12, af­ter cad­dy­ing for his lit­tle brother at an event.

He grabbed the clubs and de­cided to have a swing, and found he en­joyed the sport.

He now has a 2 hand­i­cap, is coached by Para­pa­raumu Beach pro Kevin Smith, and hopes to fol­low in Camp­bell’s foot­steps and turn pro­fes­sional in a few years.

Wawatai’s success came three years younger than Camp­bell’s at the NZ Maori event, and the teen also had some­one spe­cial at his side.

‘‘ My girl­friend, Brooke Parker, she was my caddy for the tour­na­ment,’’ he said.

‘‘I couldn’t be­lieve she did it ac­tu­ally. It was awe­some.’’

Dur­ing the next few months Wawatai will play in ama­teur tour­na­ments around New Zealand, and is No 1 in the Para­pa­raumu Beach se­nior team.

He is part of the Srixon Academy, with full spon­sor­ship, while work­ing each morn­ing at McDon­ald’s in Para­pa­raumu.

Young champ: Cruize Wawatai has won the stroke­play sec­tion of the New Zealand Maori golf cham­pi­onships.

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