Ching survives blustery conditions to claim ILH golf crown
Better to be good than lucky, at least on a brutally windy day at Waialae Country Club.
That's true for Alex Ching, who survived 30 mph gusts to shoot a 75 and capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys golf championship yesterday.
The Punahou senior shot a 64 last week at Oahu Country Club to finish with a two-round total of 139, two strokes ahead of rival T.J. Kua.
It was the first win of the ILH season for Ching, who has already accepted a scholarship to the University of San Diego. His solid finish on the final two holes was a contrast to Kua, who had the lead after 16 holes but ran into the wrong kind of luck.
"I felt so bad for him. He had two bad bounces," Ching said of his buddy.
The two old friends were separated by just one shot entering the second round. Ching had a 64 at in the first round at OCC eight days ago.
Kua made up ground quickly, and the two were neck-a-neck at Waialae. The Kamehameha senior eagled No. 9 to tie Ching.
At No. 10, Ching birdied and Kua parred as the Punahou golfer regained the lead.
Kua charged ahead after nailing a birdie at the 15th hole while Ching bogeyed.
The final two holes, however, were Kua's undoing.
"I made a bad chip and I couldn't make the comeback putt," he said. "Alex parred that hole."
That left the two tied.
On the 18th, Kua pulled his drive, then pulled a second shot. "I had to go right-handed on my third one. That got me on the green," he said.
But it was too late. Ching birdied the hole and Kua had another bogey.
The wind was a major factor even for Ching, who has golfed more than 30 times at Waialae.
"This is the windiest I've ever played in here. If you get in trouble, you gotta take your medicine and don't force anything," he said.
Punahou freshman Cyd Okino withstood the gusts, shot an 81 and won the girls championship with a two-round total of 159. Yesterday's round at Waialae was only her fourth trip there, not including her string of visits as a fan at the Sony Open.
Her teammates, Anna Jang and Alina Ching, finished second and third, respectively. Jang, the defending state champion, was two shots back at 161 after shooting an 83 yesterday. Ching shot an 86 and finished at 162.
Okino, Jang and Ching teed off after 8 a.m., with Okino back two strokes.
"I thought I was against Kaili (Britos)," Okino said of the Kamehameha standout. "I feel OK with the way I shot, but I feel I could've done a lot better."
Okino's drive -- she can send it 260 yards -- was a plus on a day when putting was a struggle.
"She's good at managing her game," Buffanblu coach Ed Kageyama said.
When the state tourney tees off in three weeks, the field should be wide open.
"Any of our top four today could've won (ILH)," Kageyama noted.
The lowest round of the day went to junior David Fink of Iolani, who carded an amazing 70. He finished five strokes behind Ching at 144. Fink's home course is Oahu Country Club, but he's familiar with Waialae, where his grandfather is a member.
"I was pretty lucky putting-wise, trying to keep up with the big boys," said Fink, who has won a few ILH regular-season tournaments. "I went into each putt thinking I'd make it, just positive thinking."
His ability to handle the windy conditions might come in handy at the state tourney at Wailua Golf Course on Kauai.
"It's tricky, but I wouldn't hope for it," said Fink, who opted for golf over volleyball when volleyball switched to a spring sport.