THE GOLF PAGE
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Will Yanagisawa, who carded rounds of 65-66-69 to finish at the top with a 14-under 200 last year, will return to defend his Hawaii Pearl Open title.
Yanagisawa tops Pearl Open field
The defending champion looks to repeat in '06
FOR 28 YEARS the Hawaii Pearl Open has attracted some of the best golfers, not only from here in Hawaii, but from Japan as well.
This year is no different.
Granted, teen phenom Michelle Wie won't be in the 192-player field, and neither will Japan pro Sakura Yokomine, who created a media frenzy last year. Yokomine was followed by a horde of around 60 reporters and cameramen from Japan who documented her every move, from eating sushi at the pro-am dinner to whacking tee shots on the 6,787-yard, par-72 layout.
TEE IT UP
Hawaii Pearl Open
When: Feb. 10-12
Where: Pearl Country Club
Time: 7 a.m.
Defending champion: Will Yanagisawa
But just take a look at the players who have committed to play in the three-day tournament, which begins Friday.
Defending champion Will Yanagisawa tops the field, which will also include past champions Greg Meyer (2004, '03, '88, and '87), Kiyoshi Murota ('97, '02), Kevin Hayashi ('00, '94) and Lance Suzuki ('93, '95).
Some other players to watch are Chad Saladin and Matt Kodama.
"We always get the best players from Hawaii and the young stars from Japan," said Pearl Country Club director of golf David Ishii, a six-time winner of the event.
"So far we've been doing well having the interest in coming to play at Pearl.
"The interest hasn't changed too much (since our first tournament)," added Ishii. "We still have the full field, we still have people on the waiting list and we should have about between 60 to 70 players trying to qualify for about eight spots, which before we never had a qualifying. And when we first had a qualifying (tournament), I think we had like maybe 30, 35 people try.
"And because of Michelle Wie, we have more and more girls trying to qualify."
Not surprisingly, there were two women, both from Japan, in yesterday's 18-hole qualifying at the PCC trying to get into the field. They were up-and-coming 17-year-old amateurs Yurika Ishida and Maiko Wakabayashi.
Ai Okawa, a 21-year-old pro from Japan, will be the only woman in the field unless Ishida and/or Wakabayashi qualify.
"I wasn't here when it (the Hawaii Pearl Open) first started, but Mr. Honda's wishes was to have a golf tournament for Hawaii and for some pros and amateurs to come from Japan ... kind of a friendship tournament," Ishii said of the late Soichiro Honda, founder of the Honda Motor Corporation, who passed away in 1991 at the age of 84.
"And it's become one of the biggest tournaments in Hawaii.
"In fact, at the beginning it used to be a little bit bigger," Ishii added. "We used to put about 200 guys on the course. Now we get it down to 192 -- half of the players from Japan, half from Hawaii. But for someone to sponsor the tournament this long, that's special. In Hawaii we have tournaments like the Manoa Cup and the Mid-Pac Open, but we lost a lot of tournaments in Hawaii like the Japan Rainbow Open and Makaha Open.
"So we're fortunate to have Honda, the business side, keep putting in the money to keep this tournament going."
The field will have its share of top amateurs from Hawaii as well as Japan. Heading the Japanese contingent is Yuki Ito, Japan's defending amateur champion. Representing Hawaii are Phil Anamizu, Kellen-Floyd Asao, Del-Marc Fujita, Brandan Kop and Travis Toyama, to name a few.
There's also a distinct youthful flavor to the 54-hole tournament.
T.J. Kua and Kim Chan will be two of the youngest golfers on the course at age 15. Keeping with the beat will be Tadd Fujikawa (14), Sean Maekawa (16), Henry Park (15), Spencer Shishido (17), Tatsuya Kodai (15) and Keisuke Otawa (16).
Katsuyaku Sakurai and Yuki Mitsuyoshi, both 15, tried to qualify for the tournament but didn't make yesterday's top finishers.
"We are glad that every participant has had the opportunity to gain valuable experience by playing in an international tournament of this caliber," said PCC President Tsugio Ogata.
2005 - Will Yanagisawa
2004 - Greg Meyer
2003 - Greg Meyer
2002 - Kiyoshi Murota
2001 - Hidemichi Tanaka
2000 - Kevin Hayashi
1999 - Jeff Cook
1998 - Katsumasa Miyamoto
1997 - Kiyoshi Murota
1996 - Shinichi Yokota
1995 - Lance Suzuki
1994 - Kevin Hayashi
1993 - Lance Suzuki
1992 - a-Damien Jamila
1991 - David Ishii
1990 - David Ishii
1989 - David Ishii
1988 - Greg Meyer
1987 - Greg Meyer
1986 - Akiyoshi Ohmachi
1985 - Chris Santangelo
1984 - Namio Takasu
1983 - David Ishii
1982 - David Ishii
1981 - Norio Adachi
1980 - David Ishii
1979 - Namio Takasu
» Most wins: David Ishii (6)
» Most consecutive wins: David Ishii (3), 1989-91
» First amateur winner: Damien Jamila, 1992
» Lowest tournament score (54 holes): Katsumasa Miyamoto, 1998, 19-under 197
» Lowest tournament round: Satoshi Shimouchi, 2005, 9-under par 62
» Lowest female round: (a) Michelle Wie, 2004 and Sakura Yokomine, 2005, 4-under par
» Lowest female professional score: Sakura Yokomine, 2005, 6-under 208 (par 214)
» Lowest female amateur score 2004: Michelle Wie, 2-under 214
» First and youngest female to make the cut: Michelle Wie, 2003, age 13
ON THE PGA TOUR
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Pebble Beach, Calif.
USA (Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.)
Phil Mickelson won for the second straight week, beating Mike Weir by five strokes.
On the Net: http://www.pgatour.com
ON THE LPGA TOUR
SBS Open at Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay Resort, Arnold Palmer Course
Jennifer Rosales won by two strokes over Cristie Kerr and Punahou's Michelle Wie.
On the Net: http://www.lpga.com
LINK UP IN HAWAII
» 16-18: LPGA SBS Classic, Turtle Bay Palmer Course. 293-8574.
» 23-25: LPGA Fields Open, Ko Olina. 671-1727
» 3-5: Hilo Invitational Pro-Am, Hilo Municipal Course. 959-9601.
» 6: Swing for Education, Mid-Pacific CC. 261-4651.
» 28: Playing ability test, Honolulu Country Club. 593-2230.
» 31: Aloha Section PGA Classic, Turtle Bay Resort Golf Club. 593-2230.
11: USGA Regional Green Section Conference, Honolulu Country Club. 589-2909.
19-23: Mid-Pacific Open, Mid-Pacific Country Club. 261-9765.
29 and 30: Turtle Bay Championship, Turtle Bay Resort Golf Club, Palmer & Fazio courses. Amatour Hawaii, 351-2499.
||Pearl Country Club
|Frank Pires Jr.
||Hawaii Country Club
||Pearl Country Club
||Oahu Country Club
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