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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kono opens with 64

Advertiser Staff

Stephanie Kono

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Punahou School sophomore Stephanie Kono shot an 8-under-par 64 her best score ever and a Turtle Bay Fazio Course women's record yesterday to take a six-stroke lead over Leilehua senior Britney Choy in the first round of the David Ishii Foundation/HHSAA girls championships.

Kono's score topped the 7-under 65 shot by Kimberly Kim on June 15, 2005, in the 2005 Aloha Section Westfield Junior PGA Championship at Fazio. Kono's previous best round was a 7-under 65 at New 'Ewa Beach Golf Club in the 2005 Interscholastic League of Honolulu regular season.

"My short game was strong today, and I had (only) 26 putts," said Kono, who won her second straight ILH championship last week. "I was hitting wedges and short irons to the green, and every time I missed the green, I got up and down."

Kono, teeing off from the 10th hole, had a 6-under 30 midway through the round, including an eagle on No. 17 when she got on the par-5 hole in two and drained a 30-foot putt. She followed that with a birdie on 18.

"After 18, yeah, I thought I could (shoot 64)," Kono said. "I always thought the front nine here is easier, so I thought I'd try to shoot birdies on every hole."

Kono's only bogey came on No. 3. She started her round with a birdie, made three straight pars, birdied 14 and 15, parred 16 and then finished her first nine with the eagle and birdie. She started her second nine with a birdie, then went par-bogey-par. She birdied 5 and 7 and made pars on 6, 8 and 9.

"I've seen her have a lot of great rounds, but I would say this was in the top five (ever)," said Kevin Ralbovsky, Kono's instructor for the past 5 1/2 years. "This course is a little shorter, so with her length (off the tee) she was really dominating the par 4s. After she made the turn, it was real exciting. We were like, 'What is she going to shoot? Ten under? Eleven under?' The sky was the limit."

Moanalua freshman Kristina Merkle, who won the prestigious Jennie K. Wilson Invitational on Sunday, is in third place with a 71. Punahou leads Moanalua by one stroke in the team standings.

The second and final round will be held today at Fazio, with Kono, Choy and Merkle teeing off on the 10th hole at 9:18 a.m.

"I still need to shoot well tomorrow," Kono said yesterday. "I still need to try for birdies."

Ralbovsky said: "Anything can happen on this course. You can make a lot of birdies, but you can have a really bad day, too."