Keiley answers Challenge Fujikawa one of six with Hawaii ties to tee it up
• Photo gallery: Sony Open - Pro-Junior Skills Challenge
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Youth was served yesterday at Waialae Country Club.
The team of Justin Keiley and Jerry Kelly ran away from the field to win the King Auto Group Pro-Junior Skills Challenge. The annual event, held on the 18th green before about 300 spectators, will benefit the Hawai'i State Junior Golf Association.
"This is a great event, which benefits a worthwhile cause and we're certainly proud to be a part of it," said King Auto Group president Charlie King.
As the winning professional, Kelly won $6,000, while second- through fifth-place finishers received $1,000 apiece. However, as they have done in each of the previous Pro-Junior Challenges, every professional donated his winnings to the HSJGA.
"It's always great to be a part of this," said Kelly, who has participated every Challenge event. "They pretty much lift us up."
The teams, made up of one professional and one Hawai'i junior golfer, went through four skill challenges: a 50-yard approach shot, a chip over a bunker, a shot from inside the greenside bunker and a medium-range putt. Golfers earned one, two or three points based on how close to the hole they put their ball, and points were accumulated for a total team score.
Keiley accounted for 15 of his team's 19 points. The Baldwin High senior picked up three points on the approach shot and added two more on the chip, but failed to score from the bunker. However, he was the lone junior to sink the 12-foot putt, which earned him 10 points and sealed the victory for the "JK2 Team."
"I look forward to this every year," said Keiley. "It's just a cool experience to be close to these guys, because they're pretty much my idols."
Keiley won the Challenge last year, when he was paired with Steve Stricker. The juniors qualify for the event by earning points throughout the year through various tournaments.
"I just try to ask them questions and really get as much information out of them that I can," said Keiley, who is weighing scholarship offers from Idaho and BYU.
"Justin pretty much took care of our team. He has the highest (individual score), made the putt, he did a fantastic job," Kelly said. "It's a great group of kids every year and they're such great competitors. You get kind of attached to them and you watch them grow up, and to be able to do that and say that you were a part of them coming up, I think that's pretty awesome."
As a former member of the HSJGA, Tadd Fujikawa knows the importance of the organization.
PGA touring pro and Punahou graduate Parker McLachlin concurred with Fujikawa.
"I think it's a great cause," McLachlin said. "I grew up in the junior program here and anything I can do to give back and support the HSJGA, I would love to do."
The Sony Open in Hawai'i week continues today with the Official Pro-Am, which begins at 6:50 a.m.
KING AUTO GROUP PRO-JUNIOR SKILLS CHALLENGE
At Waialae Country Club, 18th hole
1, Justin Keiley/Jerry Kelly 19 points. 2, Alika Bell/Dean Wilson 14. 3, Cassy Isagawa/Steve Stricker 12. 4, Allisen Corpuz/Tadd Fujikawa 5. 5, Lorens Chan/Parker McLachlin 3.