HAWAII GOLF HALL OF FAME
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
David Ishii and his wife, Lorraine, greeted guests prior to induction ceremonies to the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki on Monday night.
Golf becomes Ishii's stamp in life
The 1990 Hawaiian Open winner is the latest to be inducted into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame
WHO KNOWS what David Ishii would be doing now if he didn't have an allergic reaction to dust as a child growing up across the street from cane fields in Lihue.
Maybe he could've been a comedian.
Highly unlikely, even though some of his friends say he is a bit of a jokester.
Instead, Ishii turned to golf.
"My dad (Chika) started me golfing so I could get out of the house," Ishii said prior to his induction into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki on Monday night.
"Every time I hang around the house I would get hay fever.
"So my father thought I better go outside to the golf course because the golf course at Wailua is right next to the ocean," he added. "When I went over there, my allergies just seemed to go away."
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
David Ishii was back in the winner's circle when he won the Mid-Pacific Open last month.
LITTLE DID ISHII know that golf would be his rubber stamp for the future.
Or did he?
"I kind of had an inkling when I was about 10, 11 years old that I wanted to be a golfer," Ishii said with a smile.
"I wanted to be, but whether I would be, that was a question mark.
"My parents always told me it's not easy to be a professional so you better go study, make sure you graduate," he added. "But they tried to help me in any way to play golf."
And play golf he did.
As a junior at Kauai High School he stepped into the winner's circle when he won medalist honors in the 1973 Hawaii State High School Championship.
Soon after, he was the Manoa Cup champion.
And the list of titles he won following that tournament included the State Stroke Play Championships, the Mid-Pacific Open, the JAL Rainbow Open and 14 victories on the Japan PGA Tour. His most treasured win, however, came when he beat Paul Azinger by a stroke to take home top honors in the 1990 United Airlines Hawaiian Open at the Waialae Country Club.
"I played in Japan and I won tournaments in Japan and they were great and to me just as good," Ishii said.
"But the Hawaiian Open is where the Hawaii people finally knew who I was."
Ishii qualified to play in the Masters because of his win in Hawaii and it became a part an illustrious career that doesn't seem to have an ending.
"TO BE AMONGST the legends of golf in Hawaii, that's something you never ever think about," he said Monday night. "But I'm 50 now, soon to be 51, and the golf is not getting better, that's for sure, so at least they have senior tournaments (laughing)."
It might seem a long time ago when Ishii won his first tournament as a pro.
But he can never forget it.
"It was in 1985, in Shindai, Japan, at the Tohoku Classic," said Ishii. "I felt great because I was having such a hard time. I never won anything outside of Hawaii -- I won the Japan Airlines Rainbow Open and the Pearl Open -- but I needed to succeed away from Hawaii."
That victory, Ishii said, erased any doubts that he could win as a pro.
"Every win feels great -- even last week's win at Mid-Pac felt great," he said. "Some guys win only once, some guys never win but every time you win, you never know if it's going to be your last one.
"It feels good to come on top. It's something you cannot describe. Everything goes you way."
Will this be the last time we see David Ishii in the winner's circle?
"I don't know," he said, again with a huge smile on his face. "I hope not. I hope one day to win a big Senior tournament but it's hard to get on the tour.
"The first thing is win a tournament in Japan, again, and hopefully next year maybe to get to play in a lot of tournaments."
HAWAII GOLF HALL OF FAME
George Nahale Sr., Mary Bea Porter-King
Bev Kim, Marga Stubblefield
Dan Nishimoto, Lance Suzuki
Chuck Davis, Chip Garriss, Larry Stubblefield
Billy Arakawa, Barrett Melvin, Mark Rolfing
David Bettencourt, Tura Nagatoshi, Walter J. Nagorski
Edna Lee Jackola, Jack Omuro, Hope Yee
Art Fujita, Sam Kaaua, Paul Spengler Jr.
Ben Neeley, Al Souza
Codie Austin Cooke, Charles Chung, James Reilly
Ron Castillo Sr., Jackie Yates Holt, Wendell Kop
Kenneth Brown, Morgan Fottrell, Masa Kaya
Hung Soo Ahn, Ramona McGuire, Ken Miyaoka
Tai On Chock, Paul Scodeller, Allan Yamamoto
Thomas A.T. Ching, Monte Ito, John Kalinka, Charles Makaiwa, Bob Tom
Alex Bell, Merrill Carlsmith, Joan Damon, Owen Douglass, Bill Gee, Toyo Shirai
Arthur Armstrong, Ted Benedict, Francis I'i Brown, Gov. John Burns, Babe Carter, Guinea Kop, Ted Makalena, Jackie Pung, Jimmy Ukauka
Note: No selection was made in 2005