Kim, Baldwin capture golf titles
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ann Miller
KAHUKU — At the end of yesterday's David S. Ishii Foundation/HHSAA Boys Golf Championship, Kaimuki sophomore Chan Kim stood alone and Baldwin stood in shock.
Both won state high school titles at Turtle Bay's Palmer Course. Kim (72—140) held off hard-charging Honoka'a junior Sean Maekawa (68—142) and hard-luck Moanalua freshman Tadd Fujikawa (72—143).
The Bears blew themselves away by rallying for a one-shot victory over Punahou and their first team title in the 41-year history of the tournament. Baldwin's final-round 309 gave it a 614 total. Punahou shot 312—615. Two-time defending state champion Kaua'i was third at 314—623.
Baldwin, which did not win its league championship, was two behind Punahou after the first round. After preliminary calculations yesterday, the Bears believed they had lost by two. Even after the score was posted it took time for reality to kick in.
"It was a real surprise to everybody," Baldwin coach Tom Nakamoto said. "I just looked and said, 'That's wonderful.' ... All the guys had bad holes and they hung in there. That was the key. You look at the scoreboard and you're talking about one stroke. We knew going in we had a shot at it. We just needed to play well."
The championship's first 40 years served as inspiration for the top three. "Two days ago I looked on the Internet and I saw the history of the golfers who won state championships," Kim said. "I was thinking, 'Wow, if I could get my name up there I'd be in that list of people who made history.' Coming into today I was thinking about that."
Kim opened with 68 Tuesday to open a three-shot lead on the field. He held on with a game plan that gave him the green light to gamble, but only if it felt good.
"I was trying to play conservative but not conservative to the point that I would lay up on holes that I can really go for," said Kim who, at 6 feet 2, is four inches taller than Maekawa and a full foot above Fujikawa. "If I was confident in the shot then I would go ahead and fire at the pin. If I had any kind of doubt then I would aim to the safer side. It worked out."
Maekawa, a three-time Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, opened with 74 but was practically perfect yesterday with four birdies and no bogeys. After his third birdie, on the 15th, he figured he might be closing on the leaders a group behind. Maekawa sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to put some teeth into his charge.
"I figured if I could get one or two more birdies I might have a chance at second," Maekawa said. "I knew those guys were duking it out back there."
Kim kept him at bay by converting three birdie putts from inside 10 feet, but felt he won it with four one-putts for par.
Kim and Fujikawa, the O'ahu Interscholastic Association co-champions, were even after 14. Fujikawa bogeyed the next hole to fall back and stayed there when birdie putts somehow stayed out on the next two holes.
"He had a bit of hard luck," Kim acknowledged. "Those putts on the 16th and 17th just burned the edges, which had my heart pounding a lot."
On the par-5 final hole, Fujikawa found himself in the right rough 250 yards from the pin after his drive.
"For sure I was not going to lay up," said Fujikawa, whose blast off the face of his "2-iron hybrid" came up just short and splashed into the lake fronting the green. The ensuing double bogey dropped him to third.
Kamehameha's Koa Kruse (72) and Keoho Ishimine (71), and Baldwin's Howard Pruse (72) were the only others at par or better yesterday. Ishimine improved 19 strokes from Tuesday. Pruse's round was the low score from the top two teams, by a stroke over Punahou's Jack Sisler.
The Bears also got 79s from Matt Heyd, Timmy Trenholme and Jonathan Keiley, and an 81 from Chris Armanini.
The Buffanblu won nine of the 10 tournaments they played prior to the championship and qualified seven players for states. But they lost coach Mike Dahlquist before the tournament started when he was banned from the course for "a pattern of inappropriate conduct at Turtle Bay during the ILH season and a practice round for the state tournament," according to Keith Amemiya, HHSAA Executive Director. He said he discussed the disciplinary action with Punahou administrators and they supported his decision.
The Punahou players said it had no bearing on their finish, particularly since coaches are not allowed on the course.
"We just told each other today to make sure every shot counts," said Jonathan Khil, one of three Buffanblu in the top 15.
Reach Ann Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.