Youth served at Manoa Cup
18-year-old Ching turns in a dominating effort in the title match
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Alex Ching won't bother setting his alarm this morning.
After toiling through the Manoa Cup bracket over the last week, the 100th champion of the state's most prestigious amateur golf tournament planned to reward himself with some extra shuteye.
"Every morning I've woken up at 4:30 or 5:15," Ching said. "So tomorrow I'm going to sleep to 10."
Ching's fast start yesterday morning propelled him to an 8-and-7 victory over 2006 champion Jonathan Ota at Oahu Country Club. With the duo matching each other through the first four holes, Ching carded five birdies in winning the next seven straight to take command of the 36-hole championship match.
Ching not only became the tournament's 100th champion, but became the first OCC member to win the title in 10 years.
"Knowing these greens, playing here day in and day out definitely helped because each putt I've hit at least a couple of times," he said. "The speed is different but the breaks are always the same."
"It means a lot to us," his father and caddy, Steve Ching, said. "All his uncles and aunties over here, they've all seen him grow up some 8 years old, they've all given him a lot of help and encouragement and a lot of aloha."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alex Ching used a fast start yesterday to take command of his Manoa Cup match against 2006 champion Jonathan Ota, winning 8 and 7 and getting tossed into the pool for his effort.
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Alex Ching had splashed in the Oahu Country Club pool on numerous occasions growing up.
Those times couldn't compare to the plunge he took yesterday.
Ching was given the ceremonial toss into the pool reserved for the Manoa Cup champion after he defeated Jonathan Ota 8 and 7 in the final at OCC and became the 100th winner of the state's most prestigious amateur tournament.
"It just felt really good, refreshing," Ching said after toweling off.
"When I was younger I watched one or two of the finals and I'd always seen these guys getting thrown in and it just looked fun. ... I always thought of (winning the Manoa Cup) as a goal, something to shoot for."
Along with having his name etched onto the Cup, Ching became the first OCC member to win the championship since Brandan Kop captured the last of his four titles a decade ago.
"It means a lot because all the members here support me in so many ways."
Alex Ching / Oahu Country Club member
The 18-year-old added the state amateur match-play championship to the high school state title he won in the spring by rolling through the bracket early, surviving two grueling matches on Friday and taking command of the final on the front nine of yesterday's morning round.
The match was even after four holes when Ching bolted away. He carded five birdies while winning each of the next seven holes and took a 5-up lead into the afternoon round, ending the first 18 holes at 4 under par.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alex Ching smacked his drive from the fourth tee during the 36-hole final in yesterday's Manoa Cup.
He maintained his momentum on No. 1 by nestling his approach shot next to the hole and added another birdie on the second hole.
"I figured if I could start the second 18 strong and get a couple of holes on him I could make a run," said Ota, the 2006 champion. "But right off the bat on the first hole he's 1 foot from the hole making a birdie."
Ching made the turn at 9-up and closed out the match at No. 11, sinking a 3-foot putt for par to punctuate an often spectacular week on his home course.
"It means a lot because all the members here support me in so many ways," Ching said. "They pretty much raised me up here. It feels good because they're always behind me, so this is something maybe I can give back to them."
Two years ago it was Ota slipping on the green jacket that goes to the winner. This time around he couldn't quite muster a charge at Ching after enduring the week-long grind to reach the final.
"He's been playing good the whole week so he just continued the way he did and I just couldn't give him a fight today," said the 46-year-old, who will return to Kauai to resume his duties running the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue. "I tried my best, but I was just too tired already.
"He played very smart, he always kept his ball below the hole and in good positions. Even when he had difficult shots, he knew how not to make a big mistake.
"I won one and I knew how difficult it is to go through the week and win on the final day, so hat's off to Alex."
Ching survived two close calls on Friday to give himself a shot at the title. He holed a 12-footer on the 18th hole to extend his quarterfinal match with Travis Toyama, which he eventually won in 24 holes. He later dropped a 20-footer on the first playoff hole in a win over T.J. Kua.
Yesterday's match wasn't quite so dramatic, but Ching's father/caddie/coach savored more than just the victory in watching him march through the bracket.
"I'm proud of my son for coming through and hitting some great shots," Steve Ching said. "Most of all I'm proud of the way he handled himself on the golf course. He handled himself with maturity and respect and I'm very proud of him for that win or lose."