Nino, Ching get job done in Manoa Cup


POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kurt Nino knows he's among the fortunate ones.

Nino picked up his diploma from the University of San Francisco last month and already has a job as an associate finance analyst awaiting him at Symantec in California in August. Certainly no small feat in this economy.

“;Graduating is a relief, finding a job is a relief,”; Nino said, “;especially in finance.”;

But before embarking on his career path, Nino was gearing up for another, more immediate challenge yesterday.

Nino, the 2007 Manoa Cup champion, faces defending champ and top seed Alex Ching in a third-round match this morning at Oahu Country Club.

Nino, the 17th seed, and Ching won their second-round matches by 4-and-3 margins. Moments after Ching defeated Craig Watanabe on No. 15, Nino closed out a win over Bou-An Fujieki.

Along with owning the green jacket annually awarded to the state amateur match-play champion, Ching and Nino share several other attributes:

» They both won state high school titles, Nino at Damien in 2004 and Ching at Punahou in 2008.

» Both played college golf in the West Coast Conference. Nino just finished his career at San Francisco, while Ching will be a sophomore at San Diego in the fall.

» And both enter today's match at less than full strength. Ching has been battling an illness since the weekend. Nino is working through a sore back that makes hiking OCC's back nine a grind.

“;No. 13 was tough to walk,”; Nino said. “;But I just have to learn how to pace myself and not rush.”;

They met up during the college season when the Dons and Toreros crossed paths, but today's match will be the first time they've been paired in competition.

“;I've seen him a few times in tournaments — he kicked my butt,”; Nino said.

Told of Nino's recollection of those encounters, Ching laughed.

“;No way,”; he said. “;I got lucky a couple times. He's a good player.

“;I'm looking forward to it a lot. Kurt is a good guy. We get along really well and joke around a lot. It'll be fun.”;

Ryan Perez, the 2004 champion and sixth seed, also reached the third round by surviving a 19-hole battle with 12-year-old Donny Hopoi.

Perez was 2 down at the turn and tied the match with a birdie on No. 13 and a par on No. 15. Perez and Hopoi, an incoming eighth-grader at Kamehameha, halved the next three holes to send the match back to No. 1 for the first overtime match of the tournament.

Perez, playing in his final Manoa Cup before turning pro in January, had a two-putt for par and took his first lead when Hopoi's par put slid by the hole to end the match.

“;It's like a final round of a tournament,”; Perez said of the tense finishes the Manoa Cup tends to produce. “;Every match I get nervous and it's fun getting nervous.

“;(Hopoi's) a great player, so much potential. His short game is definitely there. That's something you don't see in a lot of young kids nowadays. They always focus on the swing, but his short game is deadly.”;

Campbell sophomore Rudy Cabalar, 14, built on his first-round win over Brandan Kop on Tuesday by edging Thomas Yamashita 1 up.

Christopher Armanini eliminated second-seeded Christian Akau, the medalist in Monday's qualifying round, 2 and 1. Other upsets yesterday included No. 25 Marc Rosen over No. 8 Chris Byrer 4 and 3; No. 41 Scott Ichimura over No. 9 Scotty Hayashi 2 and 1; No. 29 Robert Szymaszek over No. 4 Jared Sawada 1 up; and No. 54 Samuel Rodriguez over No. 22 Chris De Almeida 1 up.