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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 10, 2001

Koshi wins Manoa Cup on final hole

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

On an afternoon when par was not good enough most of the time, Ryan Koshi won the 93rd Manoa Cup yesterday with bogey on the final hole.

Ryan Koshi, with an assist from Sam Oishi, lines up this putt on the 15th green at O'ahu Country Club.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Koshi defeated Kellen-Floyd Asao, 1-up, by dodging disaster twice on O'ahu Country Club's frightening 18th fairway — the 36th hole of the state amateur match play golf championship.

Asao dodged it just once, after a gritty comeback that caught the once white-hot Koshi on the 34th hole. All the energy that rally took — and OCC's brutal hills stole the past week — caught up to Asao on the final hole. He took double bogey while Koshi went through the woods and over the out-of-bounds stakes for the winning bogey.

Koshi, a 22-year-old airport porter from Maui, wasn't sure if it was the biggest tournament he had won, but knew it was the toughest.

"This is the hardest tournament I've won," said the man who was low amateur at the Hawai'i State and Mid-Pacific Opens last year. "You've got to be in shape. It's a tough course to walk two rounds a day. Whoa ... it is tough."

Koshi jokingly crawled up the slope from the 13th green to OCC's peak — the 14th tee high above Nu'uanu Valley. At that point — 31 holes into the match — he was 2-up. Five holes into it, he was 3-down, but caught Asao at the lunch break after an erratic first 18 holes.

The second 18 were scintillating.

"I did good on the front," Koshi said. "He blazed it up on the back."

Ooooh, you know the feeling when a putt just misses. Kellen-Floyd Asao reacts on this unsuccessful attempt on the 11th green..

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Asao, who graduated from Hawai'i Baptist Academy, turned 18 and made an amazing charge into the final of his first Manoa Cup all this month, played the front nine in 1-under 35, yet was 3-down.

Koshi lost the first hole with bogey, then birdied 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 to take control. A screaming, downhill 35-foot putt started his surge — "If it missed, it was off the green maybe," Koshi admitted — but everything else was within 10 feet.

"I thought I could make all the putts," Koshi said. "But after awhile they didn't fall and I lost my concentration for a little."

Asao weathered Koshi's birdie barrage, and opened the back nine with two of his own. Asao bogeyed the 30th hole (No. 12) to put Koshi 2-up again, but Asao erased that with birdies on the 33rd and 34th.

"I knew I had to start something because we only had nine holes left," Asao said. "If I didn't get birdie at 10, it would have been real hard."

After both parred the 35th, Asao hit his drive right on the final hole. It stopped at the base of a tree.

"I was hitting the ball pretty good today," Asao said. "On the previous hole I hit it good, and I tried to do the same thing, but I kind of blocked it out right. It faded and the wind took it, too.

"I think it was because I was tired. I was just trying to hang in there."

Koshi tried to fade his drive over the trees on the left. Instead, he drilled it directly into them, and stared in disbelief.

When he got to his ball, he had an opening less than two feet wide. He launched the ball through it so far right — and so far — it flew over the out-of-bounds area and settled behind the green. Koshi chipped 30 feet by the hole and two putted.

Meanwhile, Asao was hitting a brilliant shot to the fairway from an awful lie. But his approach didn't reach the green and his problems compounded when a chip for par came up 12 feet short.

"I tried to hit a low pitching wedge in and caught it a little fat," Asao said. "The grass kinda grabbed my club on the chip."

Asao still played the back nine in one under. He and Koshi both shot 2-under 70 in the afternoon — Koshi's fueled by his front-nine 32.

"It was the best I played in this tournament," Asao said. "I knew I'd have to play good to beat Ryan. He's like the best amateur in the state."

Yesterday, Asao was second-best, by the inch he missed his final putt. Is he ready for his freshman year at the University of Hawai'i now?

"I'm ready," Asao said with a grin, "to sleep."