Friday, October 9, 2015         


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Young guns fired up

David Fink is the only former winner left standing after youthful challengers take out veterans Brandan Kop and Jonathan Ota

By Ann Miller


With Brandan Kop taken out by a young gun and Jonathan Ota taken out by a younger gun Wednesday, defending champion David Fink is the lone former champ remaining at the 103rd Manoa Cup.

There are no girls left at Oahu Country Club, either. Three qualified Monday — as many as have qualified the previous 102 years — but only ‘Iolani senior Marissa Chow won in the first round. She was ousted by Punahou junior Kalena Preus, 2 and 1, in a matchup of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls and boys champs.

Preus holed out from 124 yards on the first hole for eagle. He was 5 up after the 11th, but Chow won four of the next five holes with par before running out of time.

"Just because she's a girl doesn't mean she's at a disadvantage," said Preus, who grew up golfing with Chow at OCC, where both are members. "She can hit it as far as half the guys and her irons are always spot on."

Chow, whose aunt is former LPGA player Lenore Muraoka, learned something important after qualifying for the first time.

"It really doesn't matter who is hitting the ball, a guy or a girl," she said. "I still have a shot at the green. It's not like it's impossible. Maybe I have a longer shot, but girls are used to it. We're not hitting pitching wedge into the green. It just showed me that anyone can win this."

Fink found his magic after a frightening first round. He opened defense Tuesday by falling into a four-hole deficit against Mark Uekawa with 12 holes remaining, before rallying with four birdies in the final six holes. He was finished with his second-round match before 10 a.m., defeating Waiakea graduate Dalen Yamauchi, 4 and 3.

Kop, a four-time champion, and Ota, the 2006 winner, played much longer and with less success.

Kop's fourth birdie put him 4 up on Alika Bell through 11 holes. Then the Hawaii Golf Hall of Famer hit the wall and the University of San Francisco sophomore bolted over it.

Kop, 50, missed the next three greens and Bell cut his deficit in half, missing a short putt to halve No. 13. Both missed short putts on the 15th and Kop had a long putt to win the match on the next hole. He got distracted — "I should have stepped away, I saw a cart out of the corner of my eye, it shouldn't bother me but ... I hit it a little too hard"— and knocked it 10 feet by, then lipped out the par putt to see his lead cut to one. Bell blasted his drive to the green on the par-4 17th, winning that hole with birdie to tie the match.

On the first playoff hole, Kop's drive was dead center, but with mud on both sides of the ball. His approach shot squirted right and Bell hit a wedge to within 10 feet. When Kop missed his par putt, it was over.

"I kept my composure during the last stretch and took advantage of every opportunity he gave me," Bell said. "You've got to against Brandan Kop.

Ota, who turns 50 this year, lost the last three holes to 15-year-old Skye Inakoshi. The Mid-Pacific Institute junior won the match, 2 up, which was the largest lead either held all day.

Inakoshi will play Matthew Ma this morning. Ma has ended both his matches on the 14th. Former University of Hawaii-Hilo golfer Isaac Jaffurs has also been dominant, winning two matches on the 15th. He plays 14-year-old Donny Hopoi today. Hopoi defeated Bou An Fujieki 1 up on the 19th hole. This is Hopoi's fourth Manoa Cup, and first Round of 16.

‘Iolani junior Lorens Chan plays medalist Seungjae Maeng. Chan, a two-time state high school champion, birdied the 14th and 15th to hold off 16-year-old Pono Tokioka, 2 and 1. Chan reached the semifinals in 2007 at age 13. He hasn't been past the second round since.

"The first year, that really gave me the belief that I could get pretty far," Chan said, "but I think I learned the most from the last three years when I lost early."

In other matches today, Fink goes out first (7 a.m.) against Todd Rego; Bell plays Nick Ushijima, from California; Tommy Yamashita meets Kyle Hayashi; Preus plays Tyler Ota and Sean Maekawa takes on John Oda.

Quarterfinals (7 a.m.) and semifinals (noon) are Friday. Saturday's final, scheduled for 36 holes, begins at 7 a.m. The Hawaii State Golf Association is providing hole-by-hole results on its website (

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