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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, October 13, 2000

High times ahead
for isle enthusiasts


ARE you ready for some -- golf? There will be a lot of interest on the links for golf fans in the next 2-1/2 weeks.

The Senior PGA Tour pros will make their annual stop next week in the $1.1 million EMC Kaanapali Classic, with 37 of the top 50 money leaders in the field.

Defending champion Bruce Fleisher, runner-up Allen Doyle, Hale Irwin, Jim Ahern, Tom Jenkins and Steve Veriato, who finished tied for third, are back at it again.

Besides Fleisher and Irwin, five other former Kaanapali winners are entered -- Jim Colbert, George Archer, Jay Sigel, Orville Moody and Bob Charles, a three-time champion at the par-71 Kaanapali North Course.

Veriato, who gained his tour playing card this year, owns a great track record at Kaanapali, finishing fifth in 1998 and third last year, both times as a Monday qualifier.

The Hilo native figures to be a gallery favorite, along with Chi Chi Rodriguez, who finished third and fifth in the last three weeks in making a remarkable comeback after a heart attack two years ago.

Rodriguez, who will turn 65 on Oct. 23, plans to play at least until he's 71.

Larry Nelson, who leads the 2000 money list, isn't entered. But he's playing in this weekend's Raley Gold Rush Classic, an event that Fleisher and Irwin, who rank second and third, respectively, are skipping in order to play on Maui.

More than 70 golfers, including Ed Sneed and Lon Hinkle, will compete for four spots in Monday's qualifying.

On Tuesday, Hawaii celebrities Sid Fernandez and Sam Choy will join six senior tour pros in a six-hole Skins Challenge in conjunction with the week-long Kaanapali Classic festivities.

After two pro-am rounds Wednesday and Thursday, the 54-hole event starts Friday, with the winner to get $165,000.

For shut-ins, all three rounds will be televised live by ESPN.

Irwin, who represents Kapalua on the tour, will conduct a golf clinic, along with the resort's teaching pro, Jerry King, on Monday, when the Village Course celebrates the opening of its new clubhouse.

It'll be a busy week of golf on the Valley Island.



Kevin Hayashi, who returned from the summer-long Golden Bear Tour in Florida, showed that he's more than ready to defend his Hawaii State Open title Oct. 25-28 at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club.

Hayashi posted a four-stroke victory in the Waikoloa Open at the Waikoloa Village Golf Course on the Big Island last weekend.

Buoyed by an opening-round 63, the Hilo pro had a 54-hole score of 215 to earn the $5,000 top prize. Henry Sieradzki and Jerry Mullen tied for second at 219.

Hayashi figures to get his biggest challenge from Brian Sasada, the Aloha Section PGA player of the year. The Makena pro won both the section's stroke play and match play titles.

Dick McClean, formerly of Kapalua, will return from California to play in the 54-hole event.

The women's defending champion is Christel Tomori, who's trying to earn her LPGA playing card in the 72-hole qualifying school next week in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Her most serious challenge could come from Punahou sixth-grader Michelle Wie, who had a memorable summer, becoming the youngest amateur ever to qualify in a USGA tournament.

The new title sponsor is Williams & Associates, a golf amenities company based in Tucson, Ariz. It has a local branch office.

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

E-mail to Sports Editor

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