Thursday, June 23, 2005


Cyd Okino listened as her father, Cy Okino, read the greens yesterday at the state match-play championship.

Okino puts name in
HSWGA history book

The 11-year-old is the youngest golfer
to win the match-play title

She arrived at Oahu Country Club in a car marked "Student Driver." Had she been old enough to take the road test, she would have driven off with a license in addition to an impressive victory.

Instead, at 11 years and 200 days old, Cyd Okino left the Nuuanu course as the youngest winner of the Hawaii State Women's Golf Association's State Match-Play Championship. The Kaimuki Middle School student held on to defeat USC-bound Shelcie Takenouchi of Kauai 1-up in the debut for both in this amateur event.

The win jump-starts a busy summer for Okino, who competes next month at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in Kansas City, Mo. That will be followed by the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

She'll be able to pack confidence along with maturity after yesterday. The top-seeded Okino survived some later pressure by third-seeded Takenouchi, who rallied from being 3-down after No. 8 to close to within one heading into the final hole.

"I'm very happy about this," a visibly relieved Okino said. "It was a hard day, especially my putting.

"And when she started coming back, I felt some pressure. Yes, I'm happy it's over."

Okino opened the morning with an eagle-3 on No. 1, draining a monster 40-foot uphill putt that had her caddie/chauffeur/dad Cy laughing.

Her lead expanded to 3-up after five when she dropped a two-foot putt for par and, after Takenouchi's par won No. 7 to pull to 2-down, Okino parred No. 8 to again go 3-up.

Takenouchi began her charge at No. 9 with an amazing tee shot that landed on the green about two feet from the pin. She rolled it in for an eagle-2 to be 2-down at the turn.

Cyd Okino beat Shelcie Takenouchi despite missing this short putt late in yesterday's match.

The two halved the next two holes with Takenouchi winning No. 12 to close to within a hole. After missing a short putt that would have put her back at 2-up on No. 14, Okino hit the flag on No. 15 en route to a birdie-4 and a two-hole lead.

She soon found herself 1-up when Takenouchi parred No. 17 and Okino's putt for par and the match was short.

"I was thinking I could make a comeback (on 18) and at least go to 19 (holes)," said Takenouchi, who had won her quarterfinal match Tuesday 1-up on 19. "I was fortunate that she missed a few putts and that's what kept me in today. But I knew she'd have to three-putt (on 18) for us to keep playing."

It didn't happen. Takenouchi's putt for birdie came up short and she settled for par. Okino tapped in for par, the win and the eventual traditional toss into the club pool.

"The thing about Cyd is she doesn't want to lose," said Cy Okino, who is a driving school instructor.

Takenouchi said she was satisfied with her finish, particularly since she had never played OCC until Sunday's practice round. She was helped out by caddie Reyn Tanaka, a Manoa Cup quarterfinalist earlier this month at OCC who is also working this summer at the course.

The two met last summer at a junior tournament in California and happened to see each other during Sunday's practice round. Tanaka, who just completed his freshman year on the Gonzaga golf team, was asked to caddie.

"The tricky part here are the greens," said Takenouchi, who turned 18 last Thursday. "This is a local-course-knowledge kind of course. You can't just play one practice round and expect to do well the rest of the week.

"It was nice to have someone with knowledge. Reyn really helped me out on the greens. I'd have to say that this is probably my favorite of my career because I got so far and was in it until the end."

Notes: Stephanie Kono set the record for being the youngest (11 years, 215 days) when winning the 2001 event. ... Takenouchi, a recent graduate of Kauai High, has been invited to walk on to the USC women's golf team. She and Okino finished yesterday's round with 4-over 77s. ... Walking the course yesterday were previous winners Mari Chun (2004) and 41-year-old Bobbi Kokx (2002-03). Chun is headed to Stanford this fall to play golf. Kokx shared medalist honors with Okino at 79 during the qualifying round.

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