Rookie of the Year Kho, Remains on the path of least resistance

Ahead of his participation at the New Zealand Open later this month, Asian Tour have featured Taichi Kho and his rise to fame.

The Asian Tour’s season-opening IRS Prima Malaysian Open marks the latest milestone in Taichi Kho’s stunning rise to fame.

On the first anniversary of his debut as a professional golfer, the 23-year-old Hong Kong player could be forgiven for reflecting proudly on a remarkable 12 months.

But befitting a young man whose stock continues to soar, Kho’s main focus and energy is on what lies ahead of him – starting at The Mines Resort & Golf Club from February 15-18.

Ahead of his maiden appearance of 2024, Kho said: “I’ve been working hard this off-season to stay on the path that I’ve been on … not changing too much, just refining a few things.

“I’m not looking to become a new golfer in 2024, but just to be a little bit better every day across all parts of my game.”

If he achieves that, then Kho will be set fair for a second successive memorable year among the ranks of the professionals.

To say that the University of Notre Dame graduate’s first season on the Asian Tour was spectacular would be a huge under-statement.

In winning the World City Championship last March, he became the first Hong Kong golfer to taste victory on the Asian Tour. In October, he brought further glory to the Special Administrative Region of China when claiming the individual gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Not too bad for a player who began 2023 as an amateur and who was listed as 1,357th in the Official World Golf Ranking. By the end of the year he was the little matter of 970 places better off in 387th spot.

With four other top-10 finishes to go with his famous Hong Kong Golf Club win, Kho placed ninth in the Asian Tour’s 2023 Order of Merit standings. In so doing, he clinched the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year accolade.

He said: “It (2023) was an incredible rookie year for me and to win the Asian Tour Rookie of The Year was a true honour.

“I am grateful to the Asian Tour for providing a platform for me and many others to showcase our golfing talents around the world. I have made so many great experiences thanks to them.

“The Asian Tour, along with the International Series, helped me see what world-class golf is like and it definitely inspired me to improve myself every day.

“There are so many people I want to thank for the successes of last year, most notably my parents – Yoko Kikuchi and Victor Kho – my coaches Jonathan Wallett and Mark Mossip, my trainer Leo Tong, my management team at Octagon, and, of course, everyone at the Asian Tour.”

Although there was much to celebrate during 2023, it says much about Kho’s character and mindset that the most important lesson he learned all year just happened to be his most high-profile ‘failure’.

By virtue of his World City Championship win, Kho qualified for the 151st Open Championship. But his Major debut didn’t turn out as planned.

On the opening day at Royal Liverpool, he ran up seven bogeys in his opening nine holes followed by a quintuple-bogey 10 on the 18th that added up to a 12-over-par 83 and left him propping up the 156-man field.

Despite a six-stroke improvement on day two, it was a chastening week for Kho – but one which he now believes was a crucial part in his golfing education.

Reflecting on the highs and lows of 2023, Kho said: “Winning the World City Championship is something that I’ll remember forever. To win in front of my parents, friends, and local support was more than I have ever dreamed of.

“But I think the most valuable experience from last year would have to be the Open Championship. I wasn’t playing my best golf leading up to the tournament, and had a tough performance that week.

“But just being in that atmosphere and learning from the world’s best really helped me progress as a golfer. From then on, I was able to really apply my learnings and had a great second half of the year, highlighted by the Asian Games win.”

Given what transpired at Royal Liverpool, Kho is keen for an opportunity to return to the Open Championship as soon as possible.

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