Regan Lee continues Kop family tradition
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By Bill Kwon
It was quite a family outing at the Mid-Pacific Open last Sunday in Lanikai.
Advertiser library photo
The Kops and Lees gathered for this photo 12 years ago. From left, Reynold Lee, Brandan Kop, Danny Kop Guinea Kop, who died in 1993, Wendell Kop and Regan Lee, who recently won the Mid-Pacific Open.
Advertiser library photo
Guinea Kop's No. 1 son, Danny, who once played to a 2-handicap, caddied for his son, Brandan.
Regan's older brother Reynold, the 1994 Manoa Cup champion, also competed in the pro flight but a two-stroke penalty because of a starting-time mixup knocked him out of contention. Their mom, Linda, Guinea's only daughter, was in the gallery, watching it all.
Guinea Kop, one of Hawai'i's legendary golfers who died in 1993, would have been proud of his progeny.
Lee knows all about his grandfather's golfing exploits from his mom, who is a decent golfer in her own right. But Regan said he drew a lot of inspiration from his older (by 13 years) cousin, Brandan.
"He was always winning tournaments when I was growing up," said Lee, who will be 27 next month.
A four-time Manoa Cup champion, Brandan Kop won the 1980 Western Athletic Conference individual championship when he was a junior on the University of Hawai'i golf team. And he beat a professional field to win the1995 Mid-Pacific Open the last amateur to do so the Rainbow Open, Army Open (twice), Navy-Marine Open and Barbers Point Open.
Interestingly, Lee and Kop each have won the Hawai'i State Amateur Stroke Play Championship twice.
Until he turned pro three years ago, Regan had been challenging cousin Brandan as the state's leading amateur player. Now the singular honor belongs to Kop again.
Lee, who played played in nine events on the Canadian PGA Tour last summer, will try the Gateway mini-tour in Arizona starting in June, playing 15 tournaments in 17 weeks.
"I feel like I'm ready," said Lee, who won the Waikoloa Open last year.
Cousin Brandan concurs, especially after Regan's performance at the demanding Mid-Pacific Country Club course last week.
"He shot some low numbers (65-68-67-72). That should give him confidence," Kop said.
"He's gained a lot of confidence and he's got the long ball. You need it in golf today," added uncle Wendell.
Don't only take the family's word for it.
Kevin Hayashi, the Aloha Section PGA's player of the year who shot13-under and still finished three strokes back, said he feels Lee is the up-and-coming guy to watch on the local golf scene.
"He has good work habits. He has a real good demeanor on the golf course, and obviously he has the talent," Hayashi said.
Lee's also a guy who knows what he wants when he puts his mind to it. That's why he told his wife, Wynne, why they had to get married on a certain date Jan. 1, 2001.
"01-01-01," Lee said. "It's easy for me to remember. And a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
If Lee's victory wasn't much of a surprise, Wendell Kop's one-stroke lead going into the final round of the championship flight was certainly a shocker.
He had the gallery wondering, "Who is that guy?" Especially after shooting a 4-under 68 Saturday. Not bad for a guy who used a wood for his second shot on nine of the 18 holes.
"I almost shot my age," said Kop, who in 1994 joined Guinea Kop to become the only father-and-son members of the Hawai'i Golf Hall of Fame.
Kop missed two birdie chances when he topped his first tee shot of the day at the short par-4 10th hole when a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole didn't drop.
"I had a senior moment," said Kop about his final-round 80 that tied him for seventh place.
A really rare bird
Mid-Pacific Country Club members believe that Carl Matthews' double eagle at the 589-yard, par-5 third hole in Thursday's opening round isn't only the first in the 40-year history of the Mid-Pac Open but also the first at the Lanikai golf course.
At least, Dr. Mike Okihiro, the club's historian, hasn't heard of any.
Matthews doesn't care.
"It's just incredible. Nothing compares to the excitement. To me that's the ultimate," said Matthews, who has had five holes-in-one. After his tee shot hit the cart path at the right of the fairway, Matthews holed out a 3-wood from 243 yards out.
"The next day, I had the same shot but used a 4-iron to lay up. That night in bed I asked myself why didn't I go for it again. I should have. Why not?"
Matthews, an assistant pro at Mid-Pac for 21 years, will leave next Wednesday to care for his mom in Petersburg, Va. He also plans to play on a senior mini-tour in the Southeast region.
"I'm leaving with the idea of returning here some day," Matthews said.
New senior tournament
The Hawai'i State Golf Association, which sponsors the state amateur stroke-play and match-play (Manoa Cup) championships, has added a new event. The State Senior Amateur Championship will be held May 23-24 at the Mid-Pacific Country Club.
"We know there are a lot of senior golfers out there and we're trying to get more tournaments for them," said Dr. Paul Glenn, HSGA rules chairman and a member of Mid-Pac's golf committee.
The 36-hole event with no cut is open to all amateur golfers 50 and older by May 23. Entry fee is $120. The deadline is May 20. Call the HSGA office at 589-2909 for information or application forms.
Bill Kwon can be reached at email@example.com.