Cabalar, Isagawa claim state golf titles
• Photo gallery: Prep state golf
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
KAHUKU — All the drama of the individual championships was drained out of the team competition at yesterday's David S. Ishii Foundation/HHSAA Golf Championships when Punahou closed with a rush to claim both titles.
In stark contrast, Campbell sophomore Rudy Cabalar needed an eagle from the fairway and a big birdie on the first playoff hole to win the boys title over Kamehameha-Hawai'i senior Nainoa Calip.
A couple hours earlier, two juniors decided the girls title on the final hole and stroke. Baldwin's Cassy Isagawa hammered home an 8-foot par putt to win by one shot over Kaua'i High's Kelli Oride, who barely missed a birdie putt twice that long moments before.
Both shot 74 in the final round. Isagawa led by one going in, shooting a 73 Tuesday despite opening the tournament with double bogey. She played the final 17 holes of the first round in 1-under — closing with 16 straight pars — then held it together yesterday through a 35-putt round and Oride's relentless pressure.
"I learned never to take anything for granted," said Isagawa, a two-time MIL champ who has already committed to Oregon for the 2011-12 school year. "Never give up because anything can happen on the golf course. You can have a bad hole and can always bounce back. Even if luck is not going your way you still have chances out there."
Oride, a KIF champion, traced the difference to her own double bogey yesterday. It erased her two birdies and gave Isagawa the shot she needed. Oride, who has committed to Notre Dame in 2011, also regretted not having a little of Isagawa's length off the tee.
Isagawa is the second Baldwin golfer to win a state golf title, after Shayna Miyajima in 1999. Cabalar, who nearly won the Hickam Invitational a year ago at age 14, is also the second Campbell player to win a state golf title. Ralden Chang captured the 1981 and '82 championships.
Cabalar was three back of Calip, who will play for the University of Hawai'i in the fall, after 11 holes yesterday. On the par-5 12th, Cabalar "slam-dunked" an eagle from 53 yards out, getting it to bounce twice and check back into the hole.
"After that eagle I got pumped," said Cabalar, who shot 69 to finish at 3-under for the tournament. "Everything started going my way after that."
He birdied the 14th to tie and 15th to go ahead. Calip, who closed with a 70, caught him by making two clutch putts — the first for par from 10 feet on the 17th. The second came from 5 feet for birdie on the par-5 18th after he reached the green in two.
Calip tried to do the same in the playoff, from 30 yards farther out, believing Cabalar was playing so well he needed to be aggressive. Calip "pushed" his second shot right and it hit a rock fronting the green. The ball bounced 50 feet back and into a water hazard.
Cabalar saw the splash and laid up, then punched his third shot to the green, getting it to check 8 feet below the hole. He chased in his winning birdie putt with a huge fist pump.
The Punahou girls have now won the past four team titles. They went into yesterday's final round at Turtle Bay's Fazio Course tied with Baldwin at 13-over-par 229 (best three-of-four scores). While the Bears went higher in high winds with 234, the Buffanblu went low, closing with a 226 to win by eight at 455. Waiākea (237—477) was third.
"Our goal yesterday was to get four good scores in the 70s," said Punahou coach Ed Kageyama, who has no seniors. "We didn't need someone to go really low. That set us up for today. It was good to see Baldwin tie us the first day. Once the girls saw that they knew what they had to do."
All five Punahou players finished top 12, led by junior Alina Ching (75—150). She tied for third with 'Iolani's Marissa Chow, who was 4-under at the turn but bogeyed the last three holes for a 71.
The Punahou boys took a six-shot lead into the final round at Turtle Bay's Palmer Course, and won by eight over Moanalua and 'Iolani — 606 to 614. Punahou had four players in the top 20. Senior Bradley Shigezawa, who will play for Northwestern in the fall, shared fifth at 149 with junior teammate Brian Lee, who played the back nine in 35. Bou-An Fujeiki, the only other senior, was 15th. He is headed to Claremont McKenna.
First-year Punahou coach Matt Pakkala insisted he inherited the foundation of this championship team from the former coaches.
"Casey Nakama and Del-Marc (Fujita) left me with a well-prepared team and great kids," Pakkala said. "This is a fantastic group, with great personality and we had a lot of fun."
Aaron Kunitomo (72—146) of Kamehameha-Maui took third among the boys. 'Iolani sophomore Lorens Chan, the defending champion, shot 74—148 to finish fourth