DAVID S. ISHII/HHSAA GOLF
CRAIG KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chan Kim of Kaimuki looked back at Moanalua's Tadd Fujikawa after sinking his par putt for the state title yesterday.
Cinderella Bears give Baldwin first state golf banner
Baldwin's top four outshoot Punahou's best by a stroke for a historic win
After the team picture, the Baldwin Bears did their best Carl Spackler impersonations.
"Cinderella story! Cinderella story!" said the new state high school golf champions, the first team from Baldwin to take the title in the 41 years of the tournament's existence. It was no fantasy like that of the Bill Murray character in "Caddyshack," though: The Bears really won.
But the team portion of the David S. Ishii/HHSAA event at the Arnold Palmer course at Turtle Bay yesterday was also the culmination of a homecoming story. First-year Baldwin coach Tom Nakamoto recently returned to the islands after working as a teacher in Michigan the past 34 years.
"Maui boy, Baldwin class of '64," said Nakamoto, with a slight trace of pidgin detectable in his voice. The joy and pride was easy to hear, though.
"These guys really worked together as a team," Nakamoto said, after Baldwin edged Punahou by one stroke. "They are a great bunch of young men."
Chan Kim of Kaimuki is another admirable teenager. The Bulldog sophomore doesn't get too high after a good round or too low after a bad one. He did have plenty to smile about yesterday after taking individual honors with an even-par 72 to go with his 68 on Tuesday.
Sean Maekawa of Honokaa posted the best round of the day, a bogey-free 68 for a 142 total and second place.
"I was just trying to keep myself in the ball game, be steady off the tee and hit the greens. I was hitting fairways today, much better than yesterday," Maekawa said.
Tadd Fujikawa shot 72 for 143 and third place. Playing in the final group with Kim, the Moanalua freshman kept the pressure on the leader throughout the round, closing to within one stroke and staying there until the 18th hole.
After Kim laid up to the left of the green of the 539-yard par 5, Fujikawa went for it with his second shot, but didn't clear a water hazard fronting the green. He ended up with a double-bogey.
But the turning point for Kim's confidence was his par on the 373-yard, par-4 No. 14, after he bogeyed the previous hole. He made a seemingly impossible second shot from the left rough over a tree and onto the green.
CRAIG KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chan Kim of Kaimuki followed up his opening-round 68 with a 72 yesterday to win the individual state title.
"Knowing the situation, with Tadd on the green, I was thinking if I can get enough height on the ball that I can get it through the gap and put it on the green," said Kim, who rode momentum the rest of the way to win. "I was pretty nervous, but when you pull off a shot like that you feel great."
While making a high-risk shot took some of the heat off Kim, the Bears said they didn't really feel pressure, even though they were aware they were in a close battle for the team championship.
"Not really, because we were the underdogs," said Timmy Trenholme, one of three Bears to shoot 79 yesterday.
Baldwin finished at 614, with the best four scores each day counting. Punahou had 615, and two-time defending state champion Kauai was third with 623.
Nakamoto said he had a feeling Baldwin could contend coming in.
"I looked at the numbers that my kids posted all year long," he said. "The lowest score was 288, the highest for four men (in one round), 300. I said if we shoot 300 both days we're in the thick of things. Obviously we were a little bit over, but it was good enough.
"They all contributed. Howard Pruse went from 80 to 72 today, so that helped. As for the others, they were all solid and consistent."
Pruse and Jonathan Keiley, both sophomores, are Baldwin's only underclassmen. Seniors Chris Armanini, Matt Heyd, Sam Nevius and Trenholme make up the rest of the team.
"I played good yesterday, it was just the putting that was the difference," said Pruse, who finished tied for ninth overall with Heyd at 152. "It was getting used to the greens. They were hard and looked fast, but they weren't that fast."
Punahou, which led Baldwin by two swings after the first round, played without head coach Mike Dahlquist. He was not allowed on the course for the tournament because of what officials described as repeated unsportsmanlike actions at Turtle Bay.
"It was something we didn't want to do, but we didn't have any option," Turtle Bay director of golf Matt Hall said.
HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya said he agreed with Hall's recommendation.
"I can't comment on that, but I'm very proud of the kids," Dahlquist said in a phone interview after the tournament. "You have to give it up for Baldwin, too, they did a great job."
Punahou assistant Mark Dahilig supervised the team.
"These kids played through it," Dahilig said. "They knew they had to step up and put it behind us. As a former Punahou golfer, I'm proud of them."
Senior Jack Sisler led the Buffanblu with 77-73--150 to tie for seventh overall.
"We played well. I guess it just wasn't enough," Sisler said.