Ford and Chung Named In National Academy

Golf New Zealand names 2022 National Academy

Four players step up from Phase Two of Golf New Zealand’s Talent Development Programme to join the incumbent National Academy members.

Jayden Ford (Judgeford), Joshua Bai (Akarana), Eunseo Choi (Takapuna), and Tara Raj (Wanganui) have taken the opportunity to step into the National Academy environment, where their long-term development will be the focus. They join other Tier Two members Sam Jones (Manaia), Mako Thompson (Maraenui), Tyler Wood (Ngahinepouri), Darae Chung (Shandon), and Carmen Lim (Windross Farm), as well as Tier One members Vivian Lu (Royal Auckland & Grange), Fiona Xu (Titirangi), Jimmy Hydes (Gulf Harbour) and Kazuma Kobori (Rangiora).

The National Academy is the third phase of Golf New Zealand’s Talent Development Programme.  Eunseo Choi and Joshua Bai are the youngest of the four, having both recently turned 16. Both are already exciting prospects for the future, having shown their promise domestically.

This year, Choi has won the Danny Lee Springfield Open, Auckland Stroke Play, North Island Under 16 Age Group Championships, Lydia Ko Age Group Championship, and finished second at the New Zealand Stroke Play.

Bai has also had success in the National Age Group Championships, winning the Under 16 division in the North, South, and New Zealand Age Groups. After turning 16, he also won his first Under 19 Age Group title at the South Island Age Groups a week ago.

Both of these players will represent New Zealand in July’s Junior Open Championship, to be played at Monifieth Golf Club, Scotland.  As part of the event, they will visit the 150th Open Championship during Friday’s second round of competition.

Ford is another up-and-coming young talent who recently showed how much his game has developed, winning the 2022 Avondale Amateur Championship in Sydney, Australia, as well as finishing top 10 in the Australian Master of the Amateurs and making the cut in the New South Wales Open.

Raj has been knocking on the door of the national team selection in recent times. The Manawatu Wanganui number one won the Horowhenua Open earlier in the year and came second in the New Zealand Stroke Play alongside Choi.

Golf New Zealand High-Performance Manager Gregg Thorpe says the announcement is timely with international borders reopening.

“It’s great to be able to bring this group together just as our international playing schedule is opening back up, and we’re able to offer some critical international playing opportunities that will enhance their development.

“We are looking forward to working with this newly assembled group, and to support them and their teams in their journey.”

Many of the academy members have plans to compete abroad in 2022.

Hydes and Kobori are off to Japan to play the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup from May 12 – 15. Hydes will then head to the UK to play several events before going to the US. Kobori will return home following the event in Japan and travel to the US later in the year.

Thompson, Jones, and Wood also have trips to the US planned, while Chung and Xu are exploring their international playing opportunities.

They’ll all be looking to put their hands up for the World Amateur Teams Championships later in the year. Before that, Golf New Zealand will also send teams to the Nomura Cup and Queen Sirikit Cup.

Golf New Zealand looks forward to supporting these players in their golfing journeys.


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