Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, July 9, 1999


Manoa Cup will change
with times

THE times, they are a' changin'. Next year's 92nd Manoa Cup will most likely be played a month earlier than its traditional July start.

It's to avoid a conflict with the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Ten of Hawaii's top amateurs, including Regan Lee, who's currently ranked No. 1, are on the mainland for the national event, which starts Monday. The Manoa Cup ends Sunday at the Oahu Country Club .

"The Manoa Cup and OCC would like the strongest possible local amateur field playing," said tournament director Jay Hinazumi. "Conflict with the Public Links prevents that."

So look for the change next year, one that has been long overdue.

With women athletes, especially the American soccer team in the World Cup, commanding a lot of attention, it would have been a real interesting week if the historic Manoa Cup had its first wahine player.

BUT it was not to be. Anna Umemura, who just completed her sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, failed to qualify Tuesday for the 64-player match-play field at the Oahu Country Club.

Of course, Umemura had to tee it up from the men's tees. But the distance wasn't a factor in her shooting an 89 and failing to qualify for the State Amateur Match Play Championship, an event that first was held in 1907.

"The difference (from the women's tee) wasn't too bad," Umemura said. "It's just that my driver was all over the place."

Because of a "sophomore slump," Umemura has been working on a swing change. She has gone back to working with her old teacher, Cathy Mant, who's now at the Eagle's Landing Country Club in Atlanta.

It's a four-hour drive, according to Umemura, but worth it as a confidence restorer. She had worked with Mant for three years when the former LPGA touring pro was teaching at Hawaii Kai. Mant also worked with Grace Park, who's now burning up the Futures Tour.

"It's something that needed to be done," Umemura said, "even if it seems like I'm taking five steps back to go one step forward."

Umemura admitted she was a little nervous playing with "the big boys."

"I just wanted to challenge myself," she said about her attempt to be the first wahine to play in the Manoa Cup. "It's such a prestigious tournament and I felt I had nothing to lose. If I can, I'm going to try again next year."

The Manoa Cup is a real test of endurance. Both the semifinals tomorrow and Sunday's final are scheduled for 36 holes.

And the contestants have to walk the hilly OCC course. Only caddies may use a golf cart.

SPEAKING of which ... I guess I'm not the only one who feels strongly that golf carts don't belong in competitive tournaments.

Arnold Palmer spoke out against their use. If he had his way, they'd be banned even in PGA Senior Tour events as well.

"I am so strong on not having golf carts in competitive golf," Palmer told the Associated Press at this week's U.S. Senior Open. "I am almost 70 years old and I tell you what. I'd rather drop dead out there before I get in a golf cart and I mean it."

Palmer said part of the challenge of golf is the endurance required to play 18 holes day after day. Riding in a cart removes that part of the test.

"Walking is part of the game," Palmer said. "It is a physical thing and golf is physical ... It is just like every other sport."

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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