Champions still alive at Manoa
All of the former Manoa Cup champions playing in the 99th annual tournament advanced to today's second-round matches at Oahu Country Club, though a few of the high seeds weren't as fortunate.
Defending champion Jonathan Ota advanced with a 5-and-4 win over 64th-seeded James Kawaihalau yesterday in the opening round of the state amateur match-play championship. Four-time champ Brandan Kop had to rally to edge Punahou sophomore Bou-An Fujieki, and 2004 winner Ryan Perez defeated Haku Maluenda 2-up.
Travis Toyama, the tournament champion in 2002 and '05, had two eagles on his way to a 5-and-4 win over Jonathan Khil. Kellen-Floyd Asao (2003 winner), who qualified as the 46th seed, defeated Michael Park 3 and 2.
Lower seeds won 11 matches yesterday with No. 59 David Saka delivering the biggest upset, a 3-and-2 win over No. 6 Yusuke Aonuma.
John-David Nako won the longest match of the day, coming back from 2 down with two holes left in regulation to outlast Lee Sakugawa in 23 holes. Nako drained a 65-foot putt from the fringe to win the 17th and a par on the 18th was enough to extend the match. After playing even on the next four holes, Nako closed it out with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 23rd hole.
The field will be sliced to 16 with today's matches, highlighted by a matchup between Toyama and No. 2 Edward Stenftenagel.
The third round of the week-long event starts at 7 a.m. tomorrow.
Teens take over
The influence of the youth movement in local golf has been evident early at the state's oldest tournament.
Several teens made it through qualifying and yesterday's opening round of match play at the 99th Manoa Cup to reach today's play, with two of the youngest players in the field -- Lorens Chan (13) and Brett Komoto (14) -- among the 32 first-round winners in the state amateur match-play championship.
"I just wanted to make it past the first round, really," said Komoto, an incoming freshman at Punahou. "(His primary goal) was make it past the cut in my first year, so I'm pretty happy. I'll just see how well I can do now."
Chan, who is entering the eighth grade at Iolani, cruised to a 7-and-6 win over John Jew. Komoto reached the second round with a 6-and-4 win over Rodney Doo.
Two more golfers who just completed their freshmen years at Punahou nearly joined the other teens in the second round, but lost tight matches against Manoa Cup veterans.
Brandan Kop won the first of his four Manoa Cup championships in 1983 and was down two holes early in his match with 15-year-old Bou-An Fujieki before coming back for a 2-and-1 win. It looked like the match might be decided on the 18th when Fujieki's chip from off the 17th green rolled to within inches of the cup before stopping short.
"They can get hot like that and they have nothing to lose, and they're good players now," Kop said. "Bou-An was under par on the front nine, I was just lucky I played well."
Fifth-seeded Erick Ellgren, playing in his fifth Manoa Cup, lost the first three holes to Buffanblu sophomore Paul Shoji before winning a roller-coaster match 1 up.
"I think it's the early teaching," Ellgren, 35, said of the proficiency of the tournament's younger set. "It's also the technology and they practice all the time. Those little guys hit more balls in a week than the older guys like me hit in a whole year."
Kop concurred, adding that the high-profile successes of local golfers such as Hawaii teens Tadd Fujikawa and Michelle Wie, and PGA Tour members Dean Wilson and Parker McLachlin helped spur younger players to the practice range.
"They raise the expectations of everybody and that's what people need," Kop said. "If they see somebody else they know do it, then they think, 'I can do it, too.' ... That's good for the game of golf.
"They see their friends (playing junior golf) and they're starting younger and younger. It's a good trend."
But as Ellgren and Kop demonstrated, experience also comes into play in tight matches, though the hike probably takes a little more out of the older players who were glad yesterday's play was limited to 18 holes. In past years, the first and second rounds were played on the same day.
"I would be dead already," Kop said after his round yesterday. "Luckily, they said only one round today, so the older guys have a little more chance."
For the younger players, the week represents a learning experience playing outside the junior circuit.
"I think it helps my game," Shoji said of his first Manoa Cup experience. "It tells me what it takes to beat the really good players."
Edward Stenftenagel followed up his 67 in Monday's qualifying round with a 4-and-3 win over Peter Olson yesterday to advance to a matchup with two-time champion Travis Toyama.
Stenftenagel, who lives in Indian Wells, Calif., and vacations here in the summer, played college golf for Redlands the last two years and will transfer to USC next season. He reached the Manoa Cup's second round last year before losing to eventual champion Jonathan Ota.
Stenftenagel first played OCC in a member-guest tournament with Ed Steele, a friend of his family. When Steele died earlier this year, Stenftenagel decided to return to the tournament as a tribute.
"He told me about it and spoke very highly of it and he was a good man, so I thought I'd give it a try again" he said.