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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coming down the finishing holes

 •  Holes in One
 •  Pro Tour players from Hawaii
 •  6th-grader Corpuz paired with Neumann in qualifier

Honolulu Advertiser Special: Golf page

By Bill Kwon

Like Tiger Woods, I've taken a sabbatical leave from golf, though for a different reason. It's just that my game is so bad. It's so frustrating that I figured if I stop playing for a couple of months it might help. Surely, it can't get any worse.

But I never thought I'd stop writing about golf, not this abruptly anyway.

With the impending consolidation of The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, I knew my 10-year "mulligan" as a freelance golf columnist for The Advertiser was coming to an end. Retiring in 2001 after 42 years with the Star-Bulletin, I felt like I joined the Champions Tour when The Advertiser asked me to anchor its Thursday Golf Page with a local column, "Around the Greens."

I had the choice to remain with the Star-Bulletin in a similar part-time capacity, but it wanted its golf section to run on Sunday a day to watch, not read about golf, I said. The paper eventually realized it, moving its golf page to Wednesdays, if at all, but no comparison to The Advertiser's weekly golf page. I don't take any credit for that. It helps working with Ann Miller, the best golf writer in town.

Anyway, earlier this week sports editor Curtis Murayama asked me what's the subject of my column for today's golf page. I told him, "Oh, maybe something about the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary." You might start thinking about your final column for us, he said, after being told that The Honolulu Advertiser's final edition is scheduled for the first week in June. How appropriate: D-Day.

The daily paper under new management will be known as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

That means I've got three golf columns to go for The Advertiser's Golf Page. It will bring to nearly 500 columns that I've written for the golf section. Not bad for a retiree. I'm glad to have been a small part of the success of the golf page that has been well received. It has been a great "mulligan" for me.

So my personal countdown begins: 3-2-1. June 3, God willing, will likely be my final golf column. All pau, as we used to say as kids growing up in Pālama.

In view of the upcoming consolidation read: layoffs and loss of jobs there are too many talented sportswriters whose worlds have been turned upside down for me to even consider the idea of continuing to be a free-lance writer for a daily newspaper. Especially someone who retired 10 years ago and is collecting Social Security.

Going out this way wasn't exactly my exit strategy. But this third upheaval by Gannett in my 52-year newspaper career three strikes and you're out was simply too much to take for me.

I'll miss writing about golf but I know I will remain in touch and still be friends with so many wonderful individuals I've met and interviewed over the years as a sportswriter for both The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin. They are too numerous to mention, but a special aloha go to my golf guru, Allan Yamamoto, David and Lorraine Ishii, Mark Rolfing, Ron Castillo and his family, "uncle" Kevin Hayashi, Brandan Kop, Guy Yamamoto, Gary Planos, Casey Nakama and all his "Kids," Bill Bachran, Les Tamashiro, Jay Hinazumi, Riley Wallace (hey, he claims to be a golfer) and, of course, Michelle Wie, subject of so many of my stories. I'll add few more to the list before I'm done.

In the same way we all saw Wie mature, we now have the opportunity to see another remarkable golf prodigy become something special before our eyes 12-year-old Allisen Corpuz. Guess who she's paired with in the U.S. Women's Open local qualifier at the Hoakalei Golf Club on May 30? None other than LPGA veteran Liselotte Neumann, whose victory in the 1988 U.S. Women's Open was the first of her 13 tour victories. It's a twosome worth following.

Thankfully, I'll still be around to write about Allisen, a Punahou School sixth-grader, and the Jennie K. before it's really all pau.

I'll miss covering the Sony Open and the golf trips, especially to Kapalua, a favorite tournament venue of mine since I went to the 1982 Kapalua Open won by David Ishii, and even before that to the Kapalua Golf Party hosted by Thos Rohr and Arnold Palmer. Watching Tiger Woods win seven PGA Grand Slams at Po'ipū Bay was also a treat, as was going to LPGA events on Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island.

I'll try to keep busy, although I'm already reading two books a week in my semi-retirement and listening to hours of classical music, mostly Mahler. Can't forget drinking a cup o' kindness yet of good red wine and single-malt Scotch whisky. And beer. As Ben Franklin once said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

And I'll take up golf again. Watching Tiger shank a shot, hitting into the water where no one thought the pond was in play; Paul Goydos five-putting a hole (the fifth was from 3 feet, 10 inches), and Parker McLachlin taking a 12 after hitting four straight balls in the water for a PGA season-high 88 all made me aware that I'm not the only one having problems with my golf game.

But I'll put playing golf on hold until after my personal D-Day on June 3 when I stop writing about golf.

Bill Kwon can be reached at billkwonrhs@aol.com.