Koga, Ota earn OIA titles


POSTED: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moanalua captured all four titles at yesterday's Oahu Interscholastic Association golf championships at Navy-Marine Golf Course.

Freshman Eimi Koga of Moanalua came from behind to win the OIA girls individual crown by a single stroke with a 74 for a 36-hole score of 7-over 151.

On the boys side, Moanalua's Tyler Ota successfully defended his OIA individual title when he carded a second consecutive 72 for an even-par 144 to edge Ryan Kuroiwa of Aiea (146).

Moanalua, anchored by Ota, David Saka (149), Jefferson Yee (149), Jae Maeng (150) and Christian Agosta (150) captured the boys title.

In addition, Moanalua won the girls title with the aid of Koga, Christine Kobashikawa (167), Elizabeth Shishido (167), Ashley Yuen (170) and Jeanine Shimomura (198).

Koga and Mililani's Maryssa Shigesato were locked in an intense battle throughout the tournament.

Entering the final round of the 36-hole event, Koga trailed Shigesato by two strokes. Koga continued to trail until the final three holes, when she converted her par opportunities and Shigesato had three straight bogeys.

“;It hard for me to believe that I actually won, but I had visions in my mind that I could do it,”; Koga said. “;My goal at the start of the day was to get as close as possible. But slowly I somehow managed to get even at the end and won on the last shot.”;

Shigesato, who carded a 77, had to settle for second (152). Freshman Sydney Maluenda of Kapolei took third with a score of 155.

The 14-year-old says playing golf year-round is the main ingredient for her success at such an early age.

“;I try to play golf as much as I can and have played in lots of tournaments,”; Koga said. “;Since I play (golf) all of the time, I didn't feel any pressure out there on the course. I just came here today and played like I normally do.”;

However, Ota says he felt a lot of pressure when he stepped on the course.

“;Defending a title is hard to do, especially since I really wanted to repeat again,”; Ota said. “;I really felt the pressure on the 17th hole. But I kept my head high and focused on the task of winning.”;

The first round of the tournament was held April 12 at Leilehua Golf Course.

At the end of the opening round, Ota was tied for first place with Kuroiwa and Campbell's Rudy Cabalar.

At the start of yesterday's round, Ota took command over his two competitors on the first four holes. He maintained that lead the rest of the way, but had to fight off a challenging double bogey on the 17th hole to win.

“;I came out here to this course on Saturday to get some practice rounds in with the help of my grandfather (Craig Ota),”; the junior said. “;I think that practice time helped me become familiar enough with the design of this particular course to win.”;

Ota says he is looking forward to playing in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championships, which will be held May 4 and 5 at Turtle Bay Resort.

“;I'm glad to be going to states once again,”; Ota said. “;Hopefully our team can do good this year. “;Last season, we (Na Menehune) finished runner-up to 'Iolani. Hopefully we can beat them this year.”;