Ching, Kop on their games at Manoa Cup
Past winners walk the walk at Manoa Cup
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The match play golf tournament runs through Saturday with 7 a.m. daily starting times at Oahu Country Club.
Kurt Nino's title defense in the 100th Manoa Cup is under way.
Nino, the automatic top seed in the match play format as the defending champion, tees off for the first round at 7 a.m. with No. 64 Tyler Ota at Oahu Country Club.
Punahou graduate Alex Ching and four-time winner Brandan Kop tied for medalist honors with 5-under 66s yesterday in excellent conditions. Ching takes on Dwight Kahoohanohano, while Kop squares off against Christopher Armanini.
Ching, who considers OCC his "home course," elected to walk the difficult terrain yesterday, even though it was the only day of the week that golf carts were allowed. He explained he didn't want to mess up his rhythm.
"I played pretty good today, but tomorrow it's a whole new tournament," Ching said. "It starts off brand new, and match play's a lot different than stroke play."
Kop, who used the cart to conserve energy, was equally cautious.
"Hitting it pretty well, and I'm putting all right," the recent Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame inductee said. "It's hard to say -- somebody gets real hot, or you have an off day. You never know. Each day is different than the day before. There's a lot of luck involved, yeah?"
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Maybe it was a side effect of being around three other past Manoa Cup champions for a day, but Paul Spengler Jr. is still alive and well after yesterday's qualifying round of the 100th Manoa Cup.
Travis Toyama, who will play Sean Doi today, has won the Manoa Cup twice:
2007: Kurt Nino
2006: Jonathan Ota
2005: Travis Toyama
2004: Ryan Perez
2003: Kellen-Floyd Asao
2002: Travis Toyama
2001: Ryan Koshi
2000: Randy Shibuya
As players a half-century younger flexed their collective muscle at Oahu Country Club, the 1969 champion's 8-over 79 was good enough to squeeze into today's match play field of 64 by a stroke.
Punahou graduate Alex Ching and four-time winner Brandan Kop tied for medalist honors with 5-under 66s, and will be seeded behind defending champ Kurt Nino.
The 68-year-old Spengler, who was partnered with Jack Omuro, Art Fujita and Guy Yamamoto, used a golf cart on the mountainous OCC terrain, but will have to walk with Lorens Chan in the first round today in a format conducive to youth.
Not that he seemed to mind.
"Sure! I want to play," said an energetic Spengler, who flew over from Carmel, Calif., for the tournament. "I didn't just come over here to have a ceremonial round, I want to do match play. I gotta walk just like the rest of us young kids."
Fujita, who was inducted with Spengler to the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame in 1997, also nearly cracked the Big Dance with an 80.
All four hadn't entered the Manoa Cup in years, but were attracted by the 100th-year premise. Because of their winning pedigrees, the tournament committee arranged for Omuro (the 1960 champion), Fujita (1964), Spengler (1969) and Yamamoto (1985 and 1992) to play together.
"You know, when I heard that it was going to be the 100th year -- that was last October -- I said, 'I gotta be there!' " said Fujita, 74. "So I made up my mind to be there, and I'm not disappointed at all because I got to see some of these guys I hadn't seen for a long time. Paul, I hadn't seen since we got inducted to the Hawaii Hall of Fame. I'm so happy that the committee put us together. We hit the ball about the same, except for Guy Yamamoto, who bombs it out there. But pretty close."
Yamamoto, at the tender age of 46, hadn't entered for the past three years, and didn't mind his 88 score when it meant playing alongside legends of the local event.
"I think when I first played the Manoa Cup in '79, they were already champions," Yamamoto said. "They were something you could look up to. Mr. Fujita's from Kauai, I'm from Kauai. Ever since I've played golf I've always seen him playing it. He's always been a good golfer, a champion as well as a gentleman. The same goes for Jack and Paul.
"I was teasing them, 'It's not every day I get to be the youngest guy in my group.' " Yamamoto added.
Omuro, who was inducted into the Hall in 1998, walked around the course with a perpetual smile seemingly etched onto his weathered face. The 79-year-old wasted no time in lining up his shots, with a single practice swing before unloading on his unsuspecting golf ball.
"Yeah, I'm over the hill, so I don't want to waste too much time," said Omuro. "(Today), (my 84) was about my caliber, I guess."
While no one would accuse the veterans of managing their sharpest rounds, they had little trouble staying right behind a youthful foursome playing ahead.
They groaned together on close misses and clapped for each other on the back for saves. When it was over, the four warmly clasped hands and headed for the clubhouse.
"This was important, to come back for me, to come back and see some of my peers and see all these young players, and play in this championship one more time," Spengler said. "The 100th is the perfect reason to do it."
Making some noise while he's there doesn't hurt, either.
At Oahu Country Club
--Alex Ching, Brandan Kop. 67
--Samuel Rodriguez III. 68
--Lorens Chan. 69
--David Fink. 70
--Travis Toyama, Wade Nakamura. 71
--Alex Chu, Alika Bell, David Saka. 72
--Bou-An Fujieki, David Hamada, Haku Maluenda, Jeff Weinstein, Kellen-Floyd Asao, Raymond Tendo.
73--Eric Takaki, Kellen Watabu, Ryan Perez. 74--Bill Henry, Brandon Nahale, Doug Williams, Isaac Jaffurs, Jon Khil, Ron Haranda, T.J. Kua. 75--Corey Kozuma, Ethan Wang, Grant Natori, Joey Sakaue, Jonathan Ota, Kurt Nino, Michael Fan, Mike Hanssen, Tom Goodbody.
76--Alan Wong, Bradley Yosaitis, Craig Watanabe, Garret Hayashi, Glenn Niitani, Masao Toyama, Max Bonk, Michael Park, Thomas Yamashita. 77--Brett Komoto, Cory Oride, Edson Nakanishi, Erick Ellgren, Jared Sawada, Jon Burkard, Kane Anguay, Richard Ingalls, Robert Greenleaf.
78--Christian Agosto, Donny Hopoi, Patrick Murakami, Raymond Fortucci. 79--Christopher Armanini, Dwight Kahoohanohano, Kawika Shoji, Layne Morita, Paul Spengler Jr., Phil Animizu, Sean Doi, Tyler Ota. 80--Arthur Fujita, Kyle Yawata, Neal Takara, Rodney Doo.
81--Chris Byrer, David Yamasaki, Jeffrey Fagnant, Nicholas Matsushima, Paul Yap, Samuel Pratt. 82--Adrian Doo, Andy Toth, Brian Lee, Nick Kim, Reo Saito, Shakil Ahmed. 83--Jordan Thomas, Steve Wilhite, Zachary Na Pier.
84--Jack Omuro, Mark Franzman. 85--Bobby Matsui, Christopher Akau, Dane Akina, Randolph Yadao. 88--Guy Yamamoto, Jeff Garma. 89--Cole Yamane. 90--Jaime Matsumura, Samuel Crocker. 92--Ray Schab. 93--Chris De Almeida.
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