OAHU COUNTRY CLUB
CRAIG KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bradley Shigezawa, 13, defeated Reyn Tanaka yesterday and advanced to the semifinals, where he'll face Travis Toyama.
‘Old man’ Toyama
It wasn't that long ago that Travis Toyama was the young gun making a charge at the Manoa Cup. Suddenly, at all of 18 years old, he's considered the old guy among those left in contention for the state amateur match-play championship.
Toyama, who became the youngest champion in tournament history in 2002, will be the oldest player to tee it up in today's semifinal round at Oahu Country Club.
"It's definitely different from three years ago," said Toyama, after winning his quarterfinal match against Kellan Anderson yesterday morning.
"A lot more junior golfers are coming out. Before there used to be a few junior golfers and a lot of older guys, now it's the other way around."
Toyama won the 2002 title at age 15, and will try to protect his record when he faces 13-year-old Bradley Shigezawa in one of today's 36-hole semifinal matches. The other matchup features 17-year-olds Kurt Nino and Hilo's Jacob Low.
The semifinal winners face another 36-hole test tomorrow in the championship match.
Toyama, who won the Coral Creek Classic last week, hopes his experience playing in the tournament's grueling final rounds will give him an edge against Shigezawa, who set a tournament record in 2003 by qualifying for match play at 11 years old.
"You know it's going to be a long day, so you have to pace yourself," Toyama said. "You can lose your focus here and there, and start going off track. But then you have to remain in the zone and be ready to play."
Shigezawa defeated Reyn Tanaka 3 and 2 yesterday to advance, while Toyama continued to roll through the tournament by grinding out a 4-and-3 win over Anderson.
On the other side of the bracket, Nino beat 15-year-old T.J. Kua 2-up, and Low defeated Doug Williams, 2 and 1.
Nino, the 2004 state high school champion at Damien and a Manoa Cup finalist in 2003, and Kua were the only players to go 18 holes yesterday.
Nino appeared to give Kua hope on the 18th by pulling his tee shot left of the trees lining the fairway while Kua sent his drive down the middle. But Nino stuck his approach shot in the middle of the green and rolled a putt within inches of the cup.
Kua's approach was short of the green and his chip went long, leaving him a tough putt for par that rolled past the hole to seal the win for Nino.
At 47, Williams was at least twice as old as most of the players left in the field yesterday and hiked the hilly OCC course without the aid of a caddy throughout the week, but had enough left to make a charge late in his match against Low.
Low was 5-up after 11 holes, but Williams went on a birdie spree to go into No. 17 down just two.
After both players put their drives into the fairway, Low chipped onto the front of the green and stopped a putt within 4 feet of the hole. Williams, needing to win the hole to stay alive, couldn't get his birdie putt to drop and Low made his par to close the match.
"I give him a lot of props because he was carrying his bag this whole tournament," Low said. "Honestly I thought he might have been a little tired but it didn't show on the back nine.
"I was kind of getting nervous on the last couple of holes because I didn't expect it to go to 17. I thought I was going to finish earlier, but I'm happy it's over."
Williams has been playing in the tournament since 1998 and reached the quarterfinals for the second time. He said Low's touch around the greens could be the key to his championship chances.
"The thing about this course is you have to have the shot making, you have to have the short game, and you have to be a good putter," Williams said. "I don't care how athletic you are, how far you hit the ball, that doesn't really make a big difference on this course."
Williams spends most of the year in Thailand and Hong Kong as a golf course consultant in Southeast Asia and raved about the condition of OCC course.
"I want to emphasize how perfect these greens are," he said. "They're tricky, but they're true and they're fair."