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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hayashi in front at Mid-Pacific Open

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kevin Hayashi

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LANIKAI By the time the breeze blew in the final group at the 49th annual Mid-Pacific Open, the possibilities for today's final round were endless.

Kevin Hayashi apparently pretended he was playing in calm conditions with easy pin placements and shot a 5-under-par 67 yesterday at Mid-Pacific Country Club. Hayashi's rather remarkable round he was three better than anyone in the gusts and nearly 6 hours of dangerous hole locations gives him a one-shot advantage with a three-day total of 2-under 214.

Hayashi has a haunting history here. The five-time Aloha Section PGA Player of the Year has never won at Mid-Pac. He has five runner-up finishes, including last year when Hawai'i Golf Hall of Famer David Ishii chased him down in the final round.

Ishii is lurking again. He shares third, two shots back, with Turtle Bay's Kevin Carll after both shot 71. Kapalua pro Darren Summers (72) is alone in second and Arizona pro Chad Saladin (74), the 2004 Hawai'i State Open champion and first-round leader, is fifth, three back.

Hayashi's hope today is that he can hold on to yesterday's sweet putting stroke, hold off the disparate mob at his heels especially three-time champ Ishii and that his time has come. Strangely, the 44-year-old Mauna Kea pro believes the little time he has had to practice might actually help.

"Since I haven't been practicing much the draw isn't ingrained in my swing," Hayashi explained. "If I want to hit the fade I can hit it now. That's what's helping me here. It's windy. You can hit a punch-fade in the wind, but you cannot hit a punch-hook."

Playing the back nine first, Hayashi made the turn in 1-under, then collected five birdies on the front with a lone bogey. Two of those birdie putts were from outside 20 feet.

Hayashi, like every other leader, believes anyone under par today will win. He figures Ishii, who won the Senior title Friday, is always the favorite.

"Anybody can win. Those guys (Saladin, Summers and Carll) can all hit the ball far, but David just has the experience," Hayashi said. "He has the perfect game for this golf course because you have to be a good chipper and be very tactical. That's David's game. David's the best thinker we have in Hawai'i and he's the best chipper."

Ishii, 51, wasn't feeling that way early yesterday. He made the turn in 2-over, with one of his three bogeys a missed 2-footer. He turned his putting around on the front, where he had four birdies.

"If you want to stay on the green here you've got to hit the middle part," Ishii said. "But a lot of times that's not the best side to be on. Sometimes it's better you miss it off the green on the lower side. Some holes, it's harder to two-putt from above the hole. It's real tricky."

Summers, a 32-year-old originally from Scotland, found that out the hard way. He birdied three of his first four holes to reach 4-under, but played his second nine in 3-over.

"I didn't leave myself make-able putts on the front," Summers said. "I was above the hole on the last eight greens."

Carll eagled his first hole from 90 yards out, but "roller-coastered" his way across the hard, fast greens on the front, where he had just three pars. Saladin was 3-over after 11 holes and played the final seven in 2-under.

U.S. Public Links champion Casey Watabu, who last played at The Masters, continues to be low amateur. At 73221, he is four shots better than 15-year-old Bradley Shigezawa (74).

This tournament is being dedicated to Bob Tokugawa, Mid-Pac's superintendent from 1981 to 2002. Tokugawa, who moved to the Mainland to be closer to family after he retired, passed away April 4 in Illinois.

Reach Ann Miller at amiller@honoluluadvertiser.com.