Mason goes after fourth Hilo title Hawaii linking up with Korean pros
Nick Mason, the first to win three Hilo Invitational titles, will go for a fourth this weekend at Hilo Muni.
The 13th annual Hilo Invitational starts with a Pro-Am tomorrow afternoon. The 36-hole Pro-Am finishes up Saturday, when the 36-hole stroke play championship begins. The final round starts at 7 a.m. Sunday.
Mason defended his 2008 title last year, winning by four strokes over Hilo's Jarett Hamamoto. Mason fired eight birdies in a final-round 64.
The Leilehua graduate, who now lives in Arizona, was the tournament's first amateur champion, in 2004. Hamamoto also won as an amateur, two years later.
David Ishii won the inaugural Hilo Invitational, in 1998. Kevin Hayashi and Greg Meyer won the next two and Dean Wilson captured the title in 2001 and 2002.
Ishii and Hayashi are playing this year, as are Dave Eichelberger, Jim Seki and Casey Watabu. Amateurs include Matthew Ma, Allisen Corpuz, Michael Fan, Brittany Fan, Alika Bell, Todd Rego, Ciera Min, Kila Ka'aihue and Nainoa Calip, last year's low amateur.
Mason, a 27-year-old who played for University of Hawai'i-Hilo, qualified for the Sony Open in Hawai'i this year. He finished second at last week's Hawai'i Pearl Open, winning about $9,000, and plans to come back for the Mid-Pacific Open in April. The pro purse this week is $15,000.
"I wasn't playing for the money and that's one thing that's helped me tremendously," Mason said Sunday at Pearl. "Any young pro that goes out there my first three years I played I thought about money. Ever since then it's gone out of my head. I don't think about the dollar bill one time while I'm out there. That would be my big advice to young pros. You cannot think about the cash. Once you can do that it's going to be a whole 'nother step up."
ORIDE TIES FOR SEVENTH
Līhu'e's Kelli Oride tied for seventh at the Annika Invitational, conducted by the AJGA at Reunion Resort in Florida. The 54-hole Invitational ended Monday.
Oride, a Kaua'i High junior, fired rounds of 76-72-74. She finished 11 back of champion Victoria Tanco, who shot a 6-under-par 66 in the second round.
Tanco is a high school sophomore from Bradenton, Fla., and a two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year. Laetitia Beck of Israel was second.
'Iolani sophomore Lorens Chan tied for 46th at the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods in Texas. It also finished Monday.
Chan, the reigning high school state champion, had rounds of 72-81-80 (233). The winner was Bobby Wyatt of Mobile, Ala., who opened with a 65 and finished at 211.
TWO GET BIG I EXEMPTIONS
Hawai'i juniors Ciera Min and Justin Keiley have been granted exemptions by the national committee to this year's 2010 Trusted Choice Big I Junior Golf Championship.
The exemptions were given based on their showing last year. Min, from Hilo, finished fourth. Keiley, from Haiku, was ninth.
Hawai'i will still be allowed to enter another girl and boy. The HSJGA, in conjunction with the Hawai'i Independent Insurance Agents, will hold the state qualifier this summer.
CLASSES FOR JUNIORS
Turtle Bay Resort's Junior Golf Program starts again March 6. The series offers five weeks of instruction from PGA pros and an on-course event the final session.
Classes emphasize a "fun and creative way of learning all aspects" in the game of golf. Each class will also teach juniors different rules so they will feel comfortable taking their skills to the course.
Cost for new students is $100, which includes a junior golf shirt, cap and instruction. Returning students are $60 (instruction only).
Classes meet every Saturday until April 3, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Waikoloa Golf Operations Manager Johnny Eusebio will talk about Saturday's Demo Day and a handful of people will discuss last month's Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai on Sunday's Emily Gail Talks Golf and Other Sports. The show is broadcast at 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio AM850 Hilo/AM790 Kona.