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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, March 9, 2001



GOLF WATCH

Tapa

Governor’s Cup
gets a new home

THE annual Governor's Cup -- the Ryder Cup-format matches between the state's top professionals and amateurs -- has finally found a permanent home, starting Nov. 26-27.

The Mid-Pacific Country Club has offered its golf course to be the permanent site of the tournament, named in honor of the late Gov. John A. Burns.

The Burns Challenge Cup, played at the Koolau Golf Course the last three years, had bounced around different venues since its first tournament in 1973.

In the formative first several years, the event was held at the Hawaii Kai Golf Course, where Ron Castillo was the head professional. He's still the nonplaying captain for the pros.

The two-day event was also played at Hickam, Leilehua and Olomana.

"We wanted to give it a permanent home," said Hal Okita, general manager of the Mid-Pacific CC.

The club's board of directors thought the move would be appropriate because the late governor was a former member and past president.

"You can't say enough about the man," Okita said. "We just felt we wanted to bring it back home in his honor."

And 2001 is an appropriate year to do it, according to Okita, because the country club in Lanikai is observing its 75th anniversary on May 5.

"It's a win-win situation," said Burns Cup official Francis Yamada. "And we can now get to play it later in the year, when it's more meaningful."

The 2001 Governor's Cup had been scheduled for Koolau Aug. 27-28.

"We'd like to thank Rob Nelson and his Koolau staff for all their help and hospitality the past three years," Yamada said.

Tapa

THE FUTURES IS NOW:

Christel Tomori of Hilo and former Hawaii resident Nicole Horner Gardner, who now plays out of Mesa, Ariz., are entered in the SBC Futures Tour season opener that began today.

The 54-hole Pacific Bell Futures tournament is being held at the Quail Ranch Golf Club in Moreno Valley, Calif.

It's unfortunate that Tomori, who spent the off-season working at the Navy-Marine pro shop, didn't get a chance to try and qualify for the two LPGA Tour events at the Kona Country Club and Kapolei Golf Course last month.

An LPGA Tour rule only allows members in "good standing" to enter the Monday qualifying, although it permits amateurs.

The purpose of that rule is to protect the tour members, LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said.

Thankfully, neither the PGA Tour nor the Senior PGA Tour is as restrictive. Anyone can try to qualify on Mondays before their tournaments.

It makes for a good story when some local player qualifies, as amateur Tommy Kim did in the Sony Open.

It's also the case at the Honda Classic in Florida, where a 16-year-old high school sophomore qualified on Monday and shot a 67 in yesterday's first round.

Ty Tryon, who's only two shots off the lead, can become the youngest player ever to make the cut in a PGA event.

Such a possibility could never occur in an LPGA event under its present guidelines, which is a shame.

What's even more puzzling is that Tomori is a member of the SBC Futures Tour, which has the endorsement of the LPGA. The top three money winners on the Futures Tour receive exemptions for the LPGA Tour the following year.

LPGA officials should look into reconsidering its policy on Monday qualifying, if nothing else, to support and provide more opportunities for up-and-coming young golfers like Christel Tomori.



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
Email Bill: bkwon@starbulletin.com



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