Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, May 11, 2002


Kamehameha's Mari Chun finished fourth in the HHSAA girls golf championship with a two-day total of 153.

Waiakea sweeps
team and individual
girls golf titles

Teammates Whiting and Wilson
fight for title as the
Warriors win by 20 strokes

By Jason Kaneshiro

Waiakea's Leah Whiting held off a charge from teammate Amanda Wilson -- thanks in part to a couple of fortuitous bounces on the final hole -- to win the state girls golf title yesterday at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club.

After runner-up finishes the past two years, Whiting captured the David S. Ishii Foundation Girls State Golf Championship with a final round of 3-over-par 75. She finished with a two-day total of 149, one stroke ahead of Wilson, who carded a 74 yesterday.

"This was my goal the whole year," Whiting said after discovering she had edged Wilson.

The duo's performance helped the Warriors claim the team championship by 20 strokes over second-place Hilo. Waiakea, which ended with a total of 459, was led by Whiting, Wilson and Kellie Kawahara, who finished 12th in the individual standings with a total of 160.

"It's not just one player or two players, it's a team effort," Waiakea coach Lance Taketa said.

The outcome of the individual race was a reversal of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship two weeks ago, when Whiting lost a duel with Wilson, finishing one stroke behind the freshman.

Whiting entered yesterday's play tied with Kamehameha freshman Mari Chun at 74 and two strokes ahead of Wilson and Hilo's Kristen Higa.

While Wilson took an aggressive approach to try to catch her teammate, Whiting was content to hit fairways and greens to keep her pursuers at arm's length.

"That's how they've been playing," Taketa said. "When somebody's behind, they're pretty much charging and the one in front is just playing position golf.

"It's kind of refreshing to watch both of them play, because they're both excellent golfers. ... They're very competitive, but they complement each other. I think it's good for both of them. They're always looking for a challenge."

Wilson carded three birdies on the back nine to cut into Whiting's lead, while Chun and Higa fell out of contention.

Wilson got her third birdie on the 17th hole and parred the 457-yard, par-five finishing hole to keep the pressure on Whiting.

With a two-stroke lead and needing only to keep her ball dry, Whiting hit her third shot of the final hole onto the cart path running along the water hazard. The ball bounced twice on the concrete before landing safely in the rough on the left side of the green.

A chip onto the green and two putts later, Whiting claimed the championship with a bogey.

"As long as it didn't go into the water I was happy," said Whiting, who has a scholarship to Oregon State waiting for her. "I told myself to get a par and get out of here. ... It didn't happen, but things just worked out for me I guess."

Kauai junior Lehua Wise moved up the leaderboard with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes and finished third with a total of 152. Wise started the day three shots behind the leaders and used a lesson from former teammate Rachel Kyono, last year's individual champion, to card a 75 yesterday.

"She always told me she doesn't get nervous, she puts everything on the side and just focuses on herself, and that's what I tried to do," Wise said.

Chun, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, finished fourth with a score of 153 and Higa came in fifth with a 154.

Notes: Whiting and Wilson take lessons from Hilo pro Kevin Hayashi, who won the Hawaii State Open on the same course. ... Next year's girls tournament is scheduled to be on the Big Island. ... Waiakea will try to make it a sweep next week as the boys state tournament is set for Tuesday and Wednesday at Leilehua Golf Course. The Warriors are the defending state champions.

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