Isagawa, Cabalar prevail in state golf


POSTED: Thursday, May 06, 2010

With 10 feet of green separating him from a state title, Rudy Cabalar needed to steady his hands just one more time.

“;My heart was pounding,”; the Campbell sophomore said of that moment measuring his birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

Needing only to leave it close, Cabalar instead dropped the putt with the final stroke of the boys portion of the David Ishii Foundation/HHSAA State Golf Championships, finally releasing the emotion with a fist pump and a hug with his father.

Quite a parting shot in Cabalar's final high school event before he moves to the Philippines in the fall.

“;It was the best,”; he said, still absorbing the moment after edging Kamehameha-Hawaii's Nainoa Calip. “;The best thing to happen to me.”;

While Punahou pulled away to sweep the boys and girls championships yesterday at Turtle Bay, the individual titles weren't decided until Cabalar and Baldwin's Cassy Isagawa saw their final putts of the day fall into the cup.

Punahou's girls team began the day tied with Baldwin for the team lead, but ended up claiming the program's fourth consecutive state title by eight strokes. The Buffanblu boys maintained the lead they built in Tuesday's opening round to capture their second championship in three years.

Isagawa, last year's third-place girls finisher, managed to hold off Kauai's Kelli Oride with an 8-foot par putt on her final hole at Turtle Bay's Fazio Course to finish with a two-day total of 3-over-par 147 and capture the girls individual title. Oride settled for her second straight runner-up showing at 148.

“;I was putting really bad today, so I just told myself, 'just give it a chance, don't give the hole away,' “; said Isagawa, a junior. “;I did feel confident with it and just drilled it.”;

While she pushed toward the individual title, thoughts of keeping the Bears in contention for the team championship kept Isagawa focused throughout the day. But Punahou pulled through with depth as Cyd Okino rebounded from a 79 on Tuesday to lead the Buffanblu with a 74 yesterday. Alina Ching added a 75 and Kacie Komoto shot 77 as Punahou—which returns its entire roster next year—placed five golfers in the top 12 and posted a two-day total of 455.

“;It's more gratifying that they were challenged and they came through and played well and played the way they're capable of playing,”; Punahou coach Ed Kageyama said.

The Punahou boys opened up a six-stroke cushion in the first round and stayed steady to finish with a team total of 606 and fend off Moanalua and 'Iolani, who tied for second at 614.

“;Every year when you play high school golf, it's a different animal, the team comes first,”; Punahou senior Bradley Shigezawa said after a round of 76. “;Only one time in the year it's that way, so it's great to win as a team. That's the goal.”;

Cabalar and Calip then provided a dramatic end to the two-day tournament with their duel at the Palmer Course. Cabalar held a one-stroke lead going into the par-5 18th hole.

While Cabalar played it safe on the left side of the fairway on his way to a par to cap a 2-under 69, Calip cleared the water fronting the green to set up a birdie and force the playoff.

“;I thought I had to eagle so there was no doubt I was going to go for it,”; Calip said.

After signing their scorecards, they returned to the 18th tee and Calip once again opted for the aggressive play. This time, though, his approach landed just short of the green, struck a rock and shot into the pond.

“;If he put it on the green on the second shot I would have gone for it too,”; Cabalar said. “;But after I saw it go in the water, I took out the 7-iron.”;

Calip still had a chance to keep the pressure on, but settled for a bogey and Cabalar navigated his way to a birdie to become the first Campbell player to capture the state championship since Ralden Chang won in 1981 and '82.

“;For the program it's a real boost,”; Campbell coach Laurie Katagiri-Hoshino said. “;Because he's moving and this is his last time here, he wanted to really leave a mark. He was really determined to do as well as he could, so I'm really glad he pulled it off.”;

Kohala junior Kelson Kupukaa made a hole-in-one by draining a 6-iron shot on the 15th hole.