Kohki Idoki's goal is 'to defend my title' at Senior PGA Championship
Defending champion Kohki Idoki of Japan on April 24 got his first look at Harbor Shores as part of Media Day. And unlike when he arrived at this event last year, his goals are much loftier
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – For the second time in three years, Harbor Shores in southwest Michigan will play host to the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 22-25.
On Thursday, defending champion Kohki Idoki of Japan got his first look at Harbor Shores as part of Media Day.
Idoki, known for his superior driving ability, hit every fairway in his practice round. He made three birdies and three bogeys for an even-par 71 -- an impressive score on a chilly, overcast, windy day during which the temperature peaked in the mid-50s.
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“It’s a fantastic course,” Idoki said through a translator. “We just have to focus on each shot. It’s a hard course.”
The greens are especially tough at Harbor Shores, because of their incredible undulations.
When asked about the greens, Idoki smiled and made gestures with his hands to suggest they’re like being on a roller coaster.
Idoki won the 2013 Senior PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis, thanks largely to an amazing final-round 65. It was Idoki’s first-ever trip to the United States.
His first meal that week? Chicken … it was also the first time he’d ever used a fork and knife.
Before that tournament began, Idoki said his lone goal for the week was to make the cut. And, if he made the cut, the next goal was to finish higher than his four other countrymen who were in the field.
He far exceeded those expectations and, accordingly, his goal for year is significantly loftier.
“To defend my title,” said Idoki, the first Asian-born player to win the Senior PGA Championship. “That’s my goal this year.”
Following his practice round, Idoki took part in a fireside chat where he looked back at video highlights from Bellerive and took questions.
An ear-to-ear grin was noticeable on Idoki’s face as he watched the highlights.
“I just can’t believe this actually happened to me,” he said. “The putting was going so well that week.”
Since it was his first trip to the U.S., Idoki said he underestimated the significance of his victory and how it would play back home in Japan.
“Everybody came up to me and asked, ‘what did you do?’” Idoki said. “They thought it was a big deal. I didn’t realize how big a deal it was.”
When Idoki returns here in a few weeks, he’ll be part of a 156-man field featuring 35 club professionals hoping to put their respective names on the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy -- the most historic trophy in senior golf.