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Saturday, September 20, 2014         

TURTLE BAY RESORT HAWAII STATE OPEN


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Fujikawa widens his lead

The 19-year-old leads Cyr by three at the Hawaii State Open

By Ann Miller

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After two rounds and several thousand shots, the leaders going into today's final round of the $70,000 Turtle Bay Resort Hawaii State Open are three golfers you could have picked a week ago.

Everybody is chasing Tadd Fujikawa and the seniors are trying to catch David Ishii. The women's flight is led by Ji Soo Park, a 15-year-old from Taegu, South Korea. She is following in the footsteps of Se Ri Pak and all the young Korean golfers now tearing up women's golf.

Fujikawa, who won the eGolf Tour Championship this year at the tender age of 19, continued to punish the Turtle Bay Palmer Course. The first-round leader followed up with a 7-under-par 65 yesterday and, at 11-under 133, is three shots ahead of Makawao's Sam Cyr. The longest of Fujikawa's eight birdie putts was 12 feet.

Cyr, a two-time NAIA champion, is a shot ahead of Denver pro Andy Connell and Tony Finau, who represents Turtle Bay. All three shot 67 in ideal and all but windless conditions at traditionally breezy Turtle Bay.

"For me, it feels harder when there's no wind," Fujikawa said, "because I'm not used to it."

Fujikawa turned pro at 16, soon after his memorable 20th-place finish at the 2007 Sony Open in Hawaii. The Moanalua graduate won more than $60,000 on the eGolf Tour this year. After failing to advance from the PGA Tour's second round of qualifying, his plan is to move to the Hooters Tour in 2011 because it provides an easier transition to the Nationwide and PGA tours.

It is also played on the East Coast, where Fujikawa has lost much of his pidgin over the past year. The tentative plan is to have 2004 Manoa Cup champion Ryan Perez as his caddie.

The open flight finishes on the Fazio Course today, with the women and seniors moving to the Palmer. The field of 186 was cut approximately in half for the final round. Golfers go out starting at 7:45 a.m.

The cut in the women's flight came at 155, leaving 12-year-olds Allisen Corpuz and Mariel Galdiano in the mix. Park is three years older, also in middle school, and here to practice through the end of the year.

She speaks little English and initially signed up to play the A flight. Today will be her first chance to mingle with the top golfers, many of whom are already familiar with each other.

Park shot even-par 72 yesterday at Fazio and, at 142, is the only player under par. She leads Britney Choy by two. The 2004 Hawaii state high school champion just finished her final class at the University of New Mexico.

Kauai High senior Kelli Oride, headed to Notre Dame in the fall, is three back, and defending champion Katie Kempter is five back. Moanalua sophomore Eimi Koga shares fifth with former Rainbow Wahine Xyra Suyetsugu, with Kamehameha and Stanford alum Mari Chun another shot back.

"All our dads were talking together this morning, and they were like, 'They've been playing golf together half their lives and now they're all pros," Choy said. "And they can't retire yet."

Ishii passed first-round leader Casey Nakama with a bogey-free 66 yesterday. It included three misses from inside 10 feet, but the long (46-inch) putter Ishii switched to Thursday drained almost everything else.

At 10-under 134, he is two shots ahead of Nakama and four up on Lance Taketa. Champions Tour player Dave Eichelberger and four-time state champ Lance Suzuki are six behind.

Ishii, a 14-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, has won this event's open flight three times. This is the 55-year-old's first start here as a senior. He likes Fazio's lack of length, comparing it to the course he won on in Taiwan this year. He will have to conquer the longer Palmer layout today. He won Thursday's pro-am there, shooting 67.

"I'm happy with anything in the 60s," Ishii said. "This year I didn't have too many in the 60s. I don't think I had any."

The low amateur is Sean Maekawa, who is seventh overall at 69--139.






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