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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, June 19, 2000

H A W A I I _ G O L F

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Stephen Enriquez had the chips
land his way at the Rainbow Open.

Enriquez gets
down to business

Vacationing Texas pro packs
his game, winning the Shinko
Rainbow Open with 206

By Bill Kwon


It was one of those "It Just So Happens" moments and it was worth $5,000 to Texas golf pro Stephen Enriquez.

Enriquez won the Sports Shinko Rainbow Open by two strokes with a final-round 68 yesterday at Mililani Golf Club.

He had a 54-hole score of 10-under-par 206 and the top prize also included airfare and accommodations to the La Costa Country Club & Spa in California.

Not bad for someone who just happened to be accompanying his wife on a business trip to Hawaii.

"It's just coincidence," said Enriquez, 35, a Texas native now living outside of Dallas.

"My wife (Julie) was here for GTE to help set up its training system. I called to see if there were any tournaments going on."

He found out that the Rainbow Open was going to be held, applied and got to enter.

The couple spent 10 days on Maui, where he brushed up his golf game at the Kapalua Resort.

"It's really a surprise," Enriquez said about the timing and his victory. "I played the first round blind and by the yardage book."

Juan Rodriguez, 31-year-old nephew of Chi Chi Rodriguez, finished second at 207 with a 3-under 69 yesterday, while Casey Nakama closed with a 70 for a 208.

Regan Lee was fourth at 211.

Rodriguez and Nakama trailed by just one shot with two holes to play before Enriquez, playing in the threesome ahead, birdied his final hole - the par-5 ninth as the leaders started at the back nine .

"I knew I needed an eagle to tie," said Nakama, who could only manage par. Rodriguez, a Florida resident, birdied the hole for second place.

The two played in the final group with the tournament's surprising 36-hole leader Grant Yasui. The 16-year-old Pearl City High incoming junior had a 79.

"I was kind of nervous," said Yasui, who added that it felt good and gave him confidence to lead in a major open tournament.

Steven Kira was the low amateur with a 214, while Yasui and John Lundgren, last year's runnerup, finished at 216.

Enriquez was one of four pros a stroke back of Yasui at the start of the final round.

He began by birdieing his first two holes and got to 10-under for the tournament after six holes. All told, Enriquez wound up with six birdies and two bogeys, one on a three-putt.

A former professional tennis player, Enriquez visited the islands only once before - 13 years ago for a satellite USTA tournament. Now, he's concentrating on strictly a golf career.

Enriquez played on the Lone Star Tour and was fully exempt for the Hooters Tour in 1997 before having to take off 11 months last year because of injuries.

He's fit again, according to Enriquez, who hopes to qualify on Mondays for the Buy.Com Tour.

And play in tournaments whenever any is held near where Julie's traveling schedule takes her.

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