CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL /
Shannon Tanoue celebrated a birdie on No. 17 that finished off his 2 and 1 victory over past champion Brandan Kop.
Experience gets trounced at Manoa Cup
The tournament will get a new champion after former winners Asao and Kop are eliminated
Come tomorrow, somebody new will get soaked at Oahu Country Club.
After the field of 16 golfers was whittled to eight yesterday in the third round of the 98th Manoa Cup, no previous winners of the amateur match-play event survived to advance.
A fresh face will hoist the trophy after 72 more holes of golf -- then get ceremonially tossed into the club's pool as tradition demands.
Second-seeded Kellen-Floyd Asao, the 2003 champ, was ousted by Gary Kong 4 and 2, and four-time winner Brandan Kop was knocked off 2 and 1 by Shannon Tanoue.
That leaves a wide-open field, though Tanoue, the 2004 runner-up, and University of Hawaii golfer Pierre-Henri Soero could be the ones to watch. Soero, the third seed, notched two more eagles yesterday en route to defeating Matthew Ma 2 and 1, upping his tournament total to four.
Soero, of New Caledonia, believes if he can sustain this level of play, it could be enough to win the whole thing.
"Yes, definitely my play is high," the 22-year-old said. "I have to keep the momentum."
Tournament upstart Bill Henry, the 64th seed who defeated top-seeded Travis Toyama on Tuesday, was eliminated 5 and 4 by 14-year-old Robert Greenleaf, of Maui, the youngest competitor in the field.
"I'd love to play again next year," Henry said, nodding. "I'd imagine I'd be much less of a surprise." He laughed. "It was kind of fun being the 64. If I were 62 or 63 it wouldn't have been quite as dramatic."
Greenleaf shrugged when asked about his opponent's underdog status -- even though the 42-year-old Henry is 28 years his senior.
"I play each opponent the same way, play my game," he said. "I let them try to beat me, I try not to give them holes, and let them make putts. I just made sure I didn't give anything away."
Apparently, it worked, and he'll face Tanoue in the quarterfinals.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pierre-Henri Soero dropped in a long putt for par on the 16th hole for a 2 and 1 victory over Matthew Ma.
Reyn Tanaka edged Sam Rodriguez III 2 and 1, Craig Uyehara defeated Alvin Okada 3 and 2, Jonathan Ota held off Thomas Herrick in 19 holes, and Steven Matsuno beat Gregory Ono 3 and 2 to round out the elite eight.
Timely shots late in their respective rounds helped Tanoue and Soero stave off extra holes and the possibility of elimination.
Tanoue clawed back into the lead late in his match after being down three holes to Kop at the turn. But he admittedly needed some luck to go all the way -- leading 1-up into 17, he hooked his drive over some trees to the left and onto the first-hole fairway, with a phalanx of trees blocking his way to the 17th green.
"So I hit it (through the trees) just praying it would hit anywhere on the green," the 28-year-old from Honolulu said with a grin. "And it ended up like 5 feet away (from the flag)."
He nailed his putt for birdie, and Kop couldn't match on his 12-foot birdie attempt.
Soero pulled out 19th-hole victories in both of the first two rounds, and it could have easily come to extra holes yesterday with Ma. But each time Ma threatened to wipe clean Soero's lead, the latter pulled off shots that left the former stuck with a deficit and a shaking head.
"Pierre's firing darts at me," said a good-natured Ma in the clubhouse afterward.
Soero's par-5 eagles on the second and 13th -- the second of which came from 55 yards out -- helped build a 3-up cushion. But then he hit to the right of the green of the par-3 16th, and Ma put himself in position for an easy par. Soero had to line up a 15-foot par putt to match, when a miss would have meant a single-hole lead and a likely play on the 18th, a hole Ma says "is known to go either way."
But Soero took his time, sunk the putt, and yelled out "Yes!" with a Tiger-like pumped fist.
"That putt on 16 was huge," conceded Ma, who will be a senior on the University of Oregon golf team. "My heart kind of sank. I told him a bunch of times, 'Wow, that was a great putt.' "
The 18-hole quarterfinals begin today at 7 a.m., followed by the 18-hole semifinals. The two finalists will play 36 holes tomorrow.