Star-Bulletin Sports


Waiakea's Jarrett Hamamoto shot a 74 yesterday for a two-day total of 140, to win the state boys golf championship.

Warriors win with
remarkable comeback

Kamehameha storms back from
11 strokes down on the final day
to edge 4-time champion Waiakea

By Jason Kaneshiro

Spurred by the memory of a teammate's father, Kamehameha's boys golf team erased an 11-stroke deficit to edge four-time defending champion Waiakea for the state title yesterday at Leilehua Golf Course.

Kamehameha's four scoring players all carded rounds of 74 or better in the final round of the David S. Ishii Foundation State Boys Golf Championship as the Warriors finished with a two-day team total of 591.

Waiakea, led by individual champion Jarett Hamamoto, finished at 596. Iolani came in third at 599.

The Warriors dedicated their victory to senior Eric Fong's father, who passed away earlier this spring.

"It was awesome completing something he wanted us to do and to know all the hard work all of us did and he did paid off," Fong said.

After Kamehameha closed Tuesday's opening round at 301, head coach Wes Wailehua called a meeting in the team van to remind the players of the task before entering the final day.

"I said, 'You guys have to keep in mind you're playing for your team, you're playing for your school, your playing for Mr. Fong, because he knows you guys have the potential to do well'," Wailehua said.

Christian Akau led the way for Kamehameha with a 71, and finished his round and high school career with a birdie on the 18th hole. He finished at even-par 144 to tie Iolani's Matthew Ma and Hawaii Prep's Burt Bonk for second place, four strokes behind Hamamoto.

"I'm not satisfied with what I shot in this tournament, but it's still a good way to go out," Akau said.

Hamamoto stayed a step ahead of the competition throughout the day to become only the fourth player to win back-to-back individual titles.

Hamamoto closed with a 36-hole total of 140 and joined Campbell's Raiden Chang (1981-82), Waiakea's Troy Tamiya (1986-87) and Iolani's Kalani Kiaaina (1993-94) as repeat as champions.

Hamamoto finished with a 2-over-par 74 yesterday after carding a 66 in the first round.

"I was trying to go low, but the putts weren't falling, so after a while I just tried to keep it steady and try to keep them as far away as possible," he said.

Ma struggled through the front nine, but tried to make a run at Hamamoto with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes. But Hamamoto weathered the charge and maintained a comfortable cushion.

"He's so steady," Ma said. "He hung in there. He wasn't putting real well, but he made putts he needed to make and made shots he needed to hit and that's why he's the champion two years in a row.

"After I made those two birdies, I thought I could come back," he added. "But then I bogeyed a par-3 and I just couldn't make the birdies I thought I would make."

Hamamoto said he knew the team was struggling when he made the turn. And Waiakea's hopes of an unprecedented fifth consecutive championship soon vanished.

"The boys felt a lot of pressure," Waiakea coach Lee Hardy said. "My boys really tried their best. They struggled today, but it's going to help them become better players, learning from this."

Bonk, who entered the day nine strokes out of the lead at 75, carded the low score of the final round with a 3-under-par 69.

Notes: Kahuku's Benson Chang scored a hole-in-one on the par-3, 183-yard sixth hole using a 6-iron. The only other ace in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association record book was recorded by Mililani's Clayton Gomi in 1977 at Wailea Golf Course. ... Hamamoto will continue his golf career in Colorado as he has been granted an appointment to the Air Force Academy. Ma is headed for Oregon, and Akau will play at Idaho. ... Next year's tournament is scheduled to be held on the Big Island.

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