U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Stephanie Kono has been practicing in Rhode Island for the U.S. Women's Open all week.
Big test for Kono
NEWPORT, R.I. » Stephanie Kono is blessed with a photographic memory. Just as important at the U.S Women's Open this week will be her ability to forget.
ON THE TEE
All times Hawaii times
FIRST TEE / 10TH TEE
1 a.m.-6:30 a.m.: Wendy Ward, a-Jane Park, Virada Nirapathpongporn.
1:11 a.m.-6:41 a.m.: a-Dasol Chung, Sophia Sherida, Marianne Morris.
1:22 a.m.-6:52 a.m. -- Cristina Baena, a-Ashley Knoll, Amy Hung.
1:33 a.m.-7:03 a.m.: Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Laura Diaz, Silvia Cavalleri.
1:44 a.m.-7:14 a.m.: a-Maru Martinez, Nicole Castrale, Jee Young Lee.
1:55 a.m.-7:25 a.m.: Brittany Lang, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie.
2:06 a.m.-7:36 a.m.: Catriona Matthew, Sherri Steinhauer, Kyeon Bae.
2:17 a.m.-7:47 a.m.: Dina Ammaccapane, Alena Sharp, a-Taylore Karle.
2:28 a.m.-7:58 a.m.: Maria Hjorth, a-In-Kyung Kim, a-Taylor Leon.
2:39 a.m.-8:09 a.m.: Laree Sugg, Kristal Parker-Manzo, Cindy Currier.
2:50 a.m.-8:20 a.m.: Celeste Troche, Moira Dunn, a-Michelle Jarman.
3:01 a.m.-8:31 a.m.: Colleen Cashman-McSween, a-Sydnee Michaels, Brandi Jackson.
3:12 a.m.-8:42 a.m.: a-Kimberly Kim, Aimee Cho, TBD.
1OTH TEE / FIRST TEE
1 a.m.-6:30 a.m.: Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, a-Jennie Lee, Nadina Light.
1:11 a.m.-6:41 a.m.: Nancy Scranton, Rachel Hetherington, Becky Morgan.
1:22 a.m.-6:52 a.m.: Meg Mallon, Hilary Lunke, a-Amanda Blumenherst.
1:33 a.m.-7:03 a.m.: Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak.
1:44 a.m.-7:14 a.m.: Mi Hyun Kim, Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst.
1:55 a.m.-7:25 a.m.: Karen Stupples, Heather Young, Aree Song.
2:06 a.m.-7:36 a.m.: Young Jo, Jill McGill, Iben Tinning.
2:17 a.m.-7:47 a.m.: Stacy Pramanasudh, Sung Ah Yim, Brittany Lincicome.
2:28 a.m.-7:58 a.m.: Nicole Perrot, Beth Bauer, Kim Saiki.
2:39 a.m.-8:09 a.m.: Karine Icher, Gloria Park, Brandie Burton.
3:50 a.m.-8:20 a.m.: Amie Cochran, a-Jennie Arseneault, Hana Kim.
3:01 a.m.-8:31 a.m.: Diana Luna, a-Jane Rah, Charlotte Mayorkas.
3:12 a.m.-8:42 a.m.: Kim Welch, a-Vicky Hurst, a-Sandra Gal.
FIRST TEE / 10TH TEE
6:30 a.m.-1 a.m.: Allison Hanna, a-Esther Choe, Candy Hannemann.
6:41 a.m.-1:11 a.m.: a-Nicole Hage, Elizabeth Janangelo, Sarah Huarte.
6:52 a.m.-1:22 a.m.: Tracy Hanson, Candie Kung, a-Ya-Ni Tseng.
7:03 a.m.-1:33 a.m.: Angela Stanford, Young Kim, Liselotte Neumann.
7:14 a.m.-1:44 a.m.: Birdie Kim, Morgan Pressel, Jeong Jang.
7:25 a.m.-1:55 a.m.: Natalie Gulbis, Annika Sorenstam, Ai Miyazato.
7:36 a.m.-2:06 a.m.: Minea Bomqvist, Becky Iverson, Kris Tschetter.
7:47 a.m.-2:17 a.m.: Seon-Hwa Lee, Julieta Granada, Helen Alfresson.
7:58 a.m.-2:28 a.m.: Shani Waugh, May Wood, a-Maria Jose Uribe.
8:09 a.m.-2:39 a.m.: Siew-Ai Lim, Carin Koch, Beth Bader.
8:20 a.m.-3:50 a.m.: Yu Ping Lin, a-Megan Grehan, Dawn Coe-Jones.
8:31 a.m.-3:01 a.m.: Randi Gauthier, a-Ayaka Kaneko, Kristina Tucker.
8:42 a.m.-3:12 a.m.: Dana Dormann, Beth Allen, a-Stacey Kim.
10TH TEE / FIRST TEE
6:30 a.m.-1 a.m.: a-Charlotte Campbell, Teresa Lu, Angela Jerman.
6:41 a.m.-1:11 a.m.: Il-Mi Chung, Veronica Zorzi, Sherri Turner.
6:52 a.m.-1:22 a.m.: Lindsey Wright, Sarah Lee, Michele Redman.
7:03 a.m.-1:33 a.m.: Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Hee-Won Han.
7:14 a.m.-1:44 a.m.: Sophie Gustafson, Shi Hyun Ahn, Cristie Kerr.
7:25 a.m.-1:55 a.m.: Tina Barrett, Marisa Baena, Yuri Fudoh.
7:36 a.m.-2:06 a.m.: Rosie Jones, a-Amanda McCurdy, Jennifer Rosales.
7:47 a.m.-2:17 a.m.: Lorie Kane, Kelly Robbins, Mhairi McKay.
7:58 a.m.-2:28 a.m.: Soo-Yun Kang, Jamie Hullett, Laura Davies.
8:09 a.m.-2:39 a.m.: Karin Sjodin, Lynnette Brooky, a-Paige MacKenzie.
8:20 a.m.-2:50 a.m.: Sarah-Jane Kenyon, a-Stephanie Kono, Kristen Samp.
8:31 a.m.-3:01 a.m.: Wendy Modic, a-Joanne Lee, Jen Hanna.
8:42 a.m.-3:12 a.m.: Michelle Murphy, a-Lauren Espinosa, Denise Munzlinger.
Kono just completed a perfect sophomore year at academically demanding Punahou School with a 4.0 grade-point average. She also fit a state high school golf championship into a schedule that included 4 hours of practice every weekday and nearly as much homework.
Her mother said Kono is a voracious, but efficient reader, and not just of greens.
"She surprises us every year with more academic awards and even better grades than the last year. She reads something for 30 minutes, takes the exam and gets an A. She has a photographic memory," Lori Kono said. "But then she forgets it later."
Kono hopes to do exactly that -- forget -- after falling in the third round of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links, despite being seeded No. 6 last week in Pueblo, Colo. Her coach, Kevin Ralbovsky, said Kono never lets a bad shot, round or tournament negatively affect the next one.
She agrees with the idea that getting knocked out of the Publinx early might help her do well this week in her first U.S. Open. The early ouster gave Kono more time to prepare for what she said is the biggest golf tournament of her young career -- by far. Kono arrived in Newport on Sunday and began practicing Monday.
"Right now, I think my game is at the best it's ever been. I have a lot of confidence going into this week," Kono said.
Newport Country Club was reminiscent of Waialae in its seaside beauty yesterday, complete with tradewinds. But the course was still mushy from a weekend drenching, and yesterday's forecast predicted rain for tomorrow.
"It's playing really long and there's not much roll. A lot of the par 4s, especially," said Kono, who has improved her average drive to around 275 yards. "I'm doing a good job keeping up with the pros, but I'm going to have to swing hard this week."
Kono was a popular interview subject yesterday, mostly by association. National reporters asked her about being a winner of national and international events, but only the second-most-famous golfer at her own high school.
Kono and Michelle Wie were lab partners in chemistry last semester. The two, a year apart in school, have known each other since they were 8. This is the first time they are playing in the same tournament since the 2004 Publinx.
They aren't close friends, but Kono is definitely not among the critics of Wie's pioneering style of playing in men's tournaments. Nor is she jealous of the hype surrounding her celebrity classmate.
"I think it's good because it brings a lot of attention to women's golf," Kono said.
Ralbovsky was sick yesterday and Kono's father, Teruo, replaced him as her caddie.
"Stephanie did very well today," he said. "She was a little disappointed about last week, but she got over it fast."