Another young star rising
|||Women's match play event will not have youthful flair|
|||Holes in one|
By Bill Kwon
So how good is young Bradley Shigezawa? Well, Casey Nakama, his golf instructor, says, "I don't think there's any 10-year-old in Hawai'i who can beat him."
However, he is handling it very well.
The young Punahou School fifth-grader earned medalist honors in the local qualifier for the Junior World Championships in San Diego next month where he will find out how he stacks up against other 10-year-olds in the world. Yesterday, Shigezawa was the medalist in his age group at the Aloha Section PGA Westfield Junior PGA Championship in Hilo.
Shigezawa welcomes the challenge.
At his tender age, it seems somewhat contradictory to say that he is now a little more experienced. But after missing the cut in last year's Junior World competition, Shigezawa feels he is ready this time.
"The first year, I just went to see how the courses were. Now, I want to try and make the cut this time," he said.
He has got every right to feel confident.
Playing against others his age shouldn't be a big deal, considering he competed against some of the state's top amateurs while playing from the regulation tees in the Manoa Cup qualifying. He shot an 80 and didn't make the 64-player field. But the experience was priceless.
"I thought it would be good to play in a major amateur event. Now I know how it feels," he said.
Nakama urged his young protege to try the Manoa Cup. Two years ago he told the parents of another of his young students, Michelle Wie, to try and qualify at the for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship despite her age.
"She made it and she made history," said Nakama, who feels Shigezawa will be the next young junior golfer everyone is talking about.
At 5-feet, 105 pounds, the still-growing Shigezawa is like any typical 10-year-old until you see him on a golf course. He averages 210 yards off the tee and will only get longer and stronger.
His parents, Glenn and Eri Shigezawa, noticed how Bradley naturally took to the game when he was 5.
The parents are not golfers, but the grandfather, Brig. Gen. Haruo Shigezawa, started to golf for the first time after retiring from the Hawai'i Army National Guard five years ago.
"My father just picked it up cold because after he retired he had a lot of free time. He had a practice net in his backyard to hit golf balls," said Glenn Shigezawa, an optometrist who played baseball for Kaiser High School.
At first, Bradley would watch his grandfather. Then he started hitting golf balls with him. The two would also sit and watch a lot of golf on television together.
"We kind of encouraged him," Glenn said. "We used to go to Moloka'i and play the Kaluakoi course. It wasn't crowded and they didn't mind him playing."
Bradley soon began taking lessons from Nakama at Olomana and competing in junior golf tournaments. Last year, he was good enough to qualify for the Junior World Championships and also played in the U.S. Kids Championships in Georgia.
"He's a nice guy and he's patient with you," Shigezawa said of Nakama as an instructor.
Not surprisingly, Shigezawa looks up to Tiger Woods as his golf idol. But he added, somewhat surprisingly, Jack Nicklaus as well.
"They're the two greatest golfers," said the poised youngster, who would like to one day become good enough to play on the PGA Tour.
"That's probably my main focus. But if it it doesn't work out, that's OK."
For now, he is content to see how he fares against the best 10-year-olds in the world.
Tiger simply grand
With his 2-for-2 performance in the majors so far this year, Tiger Woods has already assured that there will be an alternate in the 2002 PGA Grand Slam of Golf Nov. 26-27 at the Po'ipu Bay Golf Course on Kaua'i.
As both the Masters and U.S. Open champion, Woods opened the spot for an alternate. Nobody is betting against Woods in the year's two remaining majors the British Open and PGA Championship to make it an unprecedented grand slam of the modern majors. It would mean the elite foursome on Kaua'i will see Tiger playing with three alternates.
There have been alternates in the PGA Grand Slam. Two in 2000 when Woods won three majors, and one in 1998 and 1994 when Mark O'Meara and Nick Price each took two majors, respectively. Never three, but leave it to Tiger to make it a distinct possibility.
"There's no reason why he can't win the next two," said Michael Castillo, Po'ipu Bay's director of golf.
No reason indeed. As Tiger says in his Nike TV commercial, "I want to win a lot more majors."
So, check out the PGA of America's top 10 list of alternates based on a point system following the finishes of the previous major winners in
After 2002's first two elite events, the Masters and U.S. Open, the standings are: 1, Nick Faldo, 132.83; 2, Ernie Els,124; 3, Nick Price, 117.83; 4, Justin Leonard, 113; 5, Vijay Singh,112; 6, Jose Maria Olazabal, 107.5; 7, Davis Love III, 106; 8, Retief Goosen, 100; 9, Jeff Sluman, 95.5; 10, Craig Stadler, 94.
Amateur's finest hour
It was all Tiger Woods at the 102nd U.S. Open at the Bethpage Black Course in New York. But Kevin Warrick, the lone amateur to make the cut, caught the attention of at least one golf fan locally.
The local fan is former Leilehua High school golf coach Paul Konishi. Warrick was a freshman star for the Mules in 1997, finishing second to OIA individual champion Shane Hoshino of Mililani High.
"It was a joy to see him do well," said Konishi. "That kid really worked hard. He used to play every day at Kalakaua."
Warrick's father, Larry, a 30-year career military man, was stationed at Wheeler Field where his son attended Intermediate school for three years before the family was transferred. His mom, Judy, still keeps in touch with Konishi.
"I saw his name but I didn't think it was the same guy," said Hoshino, who barely recalls Warrick. "All I remember was that he was tall and skinny."
He must have been, if Hoshino, a 105-pound lightweight himself, calls him skinny.
Warrick, who is 6-2 and 149 pounds, was paired in the final round with John Daly. Awed by the 220-pound Daly's length off the tees, he said to the media there, "I definitely need to get a little bigger."
"It was the coolest thing you could imagine," said Warrick's father, now an assistant professor in military science at the University of Tampa. He caddied the first and final rounds for his son, who made the cut while other notable pros such as David Duval, Jim Furyk, Lee Janzen, Paul Azinger and Colin Montgomerie did not.
The 21-year-old amateur became a gallery favorite when word got out that he was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Warrick will be a senior at University of West Florida where he twice earned Division II All-American and All-Academic honors. He led his team to the national title last year.
Bill Kwon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.