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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wind, course knowledge key to Waialae victories

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer


Sanae Vierra and Suzie Kimi cautiously picked their way through a golf course primed to punish yesterday. Their patience was rewarded with championships at the 49th annual Waialae Women's Invitational.

Vierra won the low-gross title with a two-day total of 10-over-par 154, a shot better than Marcie Rudich. Kimi, a Waialae Country Club member, took low-net honors for the second time in seven years. The 21-handicapper shot 88-91 for a net total of 137 — five better than the rest of the wind-blown field.

Yesterday's gusty tradewinds and the course's slick look combined to crush golf egos. Head pro John Ramelb characterized Waialae as wearing "Sony Open conditions without the four-inch rough." Players groaned in agreement.

Greens were exceptionally quick and pins placed in difficult positions. It came as no surprise that Kimi was only one of several (flight) winners who play regularly at Waialae.

"It was tough today. The wind was really difficult," said Kimi, who overcame a nine on the par-5 18th. "I heard the greens were nine on the Stimp Meter. It's course management here. You have to know the wind. You have to know where to hit the ball."

Her point was proven most vividly in B Flight (16 to 18 handicap), where two 70-something former Waialae club champions — with some 70 Waialae Invitationals between them — closed out the kids.

Pam Anderson, 74, won low net (149). Lola Gebauer, who only admits to being "older than Pam," took low gross by shooting 84 yesterday for a 177 total.

Vierra, 40, closed with a 4-over 76 and offered more testimony to how much patience it takes to tame Waialae. Her new knock-down shot saved several shots. Yesterday, she also learned to keep her driver in her bag

"Today was time to be smart," she said. "Yesterday (Monday) on a couple holes I used my driver and that was wrong. I lost one ball and hit behind a tree.

"Today I hit my fairway wood ... three-on, one-putt and get out. That's the smart way."

The 40-year-old moved here from Okinawa 12 years ago to marry her husband — the cousin of two-time Waialae champion Ku'ulei Ka'ae — and surf. Vierra also started to golf seriously and now plays — often — to a 3-handicap. She is the second straight champion from Wahi'awa Women's Club.

She had four birdies during Monday's 78, but nullified them with four double bogeys. Yesterday, Vierra had three birdies but no doubles. There was, however, a triple that prevented her from threatening par.

That came on the 182-yard, par-3 13th, another reason Waialae played so tough yesterday. Vierra, and nearly everyone else, faced a long, concentration-killing wait, caused in part by the presence of a Jaguar to be given to the first golfer to ace the hole.

Vierra didn't hit the hole-in-one (neither did anyone else) or the green. She pulled her drive into the bunker and took six.

It was just enough to edge Rudich, the 2003 senior state champion who had problems of her own. She wore borrowed shoes after forgetting hers, and hit new clubs, after getting hers swiped two weeks ago.

Rudich worked through all that yesterday, but couldn't cope with the par-3 seventh hole, where she took a seven.