Unknown Idoki unfazed by Senior PGA debut
By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
ST. LOUIS – Most golf fans have probably never heard of Kohki Idoki – even if he has one of the most memorable names around (pronounced KO-KEE EYE-DOE-KEE). But if the Japanese golfer has one more solid round, as he has the previous three rounds, his could be a name that is etched along some of the legends of golf on the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy.
Already, his name is on the first page of the leaderboard along the likes of Perry, Haas, Cochran and Spittle. Not bad for a golfer who is not only playing in his first Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, but making his first visit ever to the United States. In fact, the only other time Idoki had left Japan was last year, when he played in the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.
And to add one more amazing event to his visit, Idoki was paired with none other than golf icon and 2014 Team USA Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson (who shot a 1-over 72) for his round Saturday. It would be understandable if all of this was too much for the unassuming Idoki. But it certainly hasn't been.
Through a translator after his round, Idoki explained that his only expectation was to play his controlled type of golf, to make smart decisions and to hopefully make some putts.
"I did think I would play well," he said, "but I didn't expect to be doing this well. I hit a couple of poor tee shots today, I'd like to correct those tomorrow. But overall, I am very pleased with how I'm playing and where I am. I am having fun."
Idoki is small in stature, listed at 5'5" and 136 pounds, but has a big game that is well known in Japan. Noted for his accuracy off the tee, (he led the Japan PGA Tour for 10 straight years in driving accuracy), Idoki made six birdies and three bogeys in the third round to jump into contention. And though his high-profile presence may not be a spot he was anticipating, it's not one that intimidates or scares him in the least.
On Sunday, he intends to not look at the leaderboard and, instead, focus on his game for every shot, hoping that his best will be good enough. But regardless of the end result, he already considers his initial visit to America and his first entry into the Senior PGA Championship to be a resounding success.
"I love the restaurants," he said with a big smile. "So many choices, I like eating outside and enjoying the weather."
One more good round from Idoki might mean his appetite for all things American – especially a certain 36-pound trophy – could get quite a bit bigger.