With her older brother occupied on the other side of the globe, Alina Ching made sure her family would again be represented in the Manoa Cup bracket.
Just before she headed to the first tee at Oahu Country Club yesterday morning, Ching shot a text message to Scotland, where Alex Ching had carded a 69 to open the British Amateur Championship earlier in the day.
She then crafted a round of 72 to become just the third female to qualify for the state amateur match-play championship.
Ching played the first five holes at 3 under par, scuffled through a rough stretch on the back nine, but came in well under the cut line to secure a spot in the 64-player bracket.
"It was a big goal just because it’s like my home course and I play here every day," she said. "And there’s got to be one Ching in there, so I had to do it for Alex."
102ND MANOA CUP
What: State amateur match-play championship
Ching’s round of 1 over par earned her the 17th seed in the 102nd annual tournament. She joined Michelle Wie and Mari Chun as the only females to compete in match play.
Wie broke through in 2001 at age 11 and again in 2002, when she won a first-round round match. Chun made the cut in 2005.
Ching, among 104 players entered in this year’s qualifying round, will open match play against Dick Sieradzki, himself a part of Manoa Cup history as the 1990 champion, at 7:21 a.m. today.
"I just wanted to make it, that was my first goal," Ching said.
Defending champion and top-seeded TJ Kua tees off at 7 a.m. and opens with a rematch of last year’s final. Layne Morita, who lost to Kua 1-up in the 36-hole final a year ago, shot a 79 and survived a six-way playoff for the final spot in the bracket.
Former ‘Iolani teammates David Fink and Lorens Chan topped the qualifying leaderboard. Fink posted five birdies during his bogey-free round to card a blistering 6-under 65 and earn the second seed, while Chan came in just behind at 67.
But the scores are wiped clean once bracket play opens this morning.
"Match play is such a different game, so I won’t be thinking about (yesterday’s) round," said Fink, who returned home Saturday after completing final exams at Oregon State. "It gives me some confidence that I know the course well enough to trust myself."
Past Manoa Cup champions Brandan Kop and Jonathan Ota also made it through qualifying yesterday. Kua, assured of his seed, played just nine holes while the rest of the field scrambled for places in the bracket.
Alina Ching followed Alex around OCC in 2008 when big brother claimed the 100th Manoa Cup title. She decided to give it a try herself this summer, in part to prepare for life beyond Punahou.
"I just thought I’d try it because eventually at the college level it’ll be longer (courses) and better players and I have to get used to it," said Ching, an incoming senior who will sign with Pepperdine in the fall.
Playing with ‘Iolani’s Marissa Chow, Ching opened yesterday’s round with birdies on the second and third holes and added another on the 281-yard, par-4 fifth hole.
"My dad told me about 78 or 79 would make it. I just wanted to be below that," Ching said. "Once I got going, I wanted to go lower."
Chow nearly joined her in the field but finished one stroke out of the playoff for the final two berths.
Ching began the morning buoyed by the news of Alex’s strong start as he also works to qualify for match play at the British Amateur. His opening-round score at Muirfield put him in a tie for 15th as 288 players compete for 64 spots.