Fitting for a golf tournament with so much history, the 54th annual Waialae Women’s Invitational had two repeat champions yesterday.
Mia Hew came over from Maui Country Club to capture the tournament’s low-gross championship for the second time in three years. Hew closed with a 2-over-par 74 yesterday for a two-day total of 151. She was three shots better than Saori Williams.
Jo Ann Chun, a member at hilly Oahu Country Club, found Waialae Country Club’s terrain to her liking. She won the low-net championship with a 136. Chun, a 22-handicapper out of the C Flight, shot gross scores of 91-89.
Chun also won low net honors in 2006. Yesterday, she beat out Waialae 10-handicapper Caryn Morita (77-80–137 net) by one.
"I play so much better here because it’s so nice and flat," Chun said. "I can’t hit my 3-wood at all at Oahu, but here … ."
At Waialae, the putter might be the toughest club to hit. The greens are arguably the fastest in the state, and frightening for anyone coming from outside, which was the majority of the 121 in the field. Both champions attributed their win to putting. Most behind them blamed that on their inability to deal with the slick greens.
Announcers at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open spoke in awed tones of Oakmont’s treacherous greens, which they gauged at 14-plus on the Stimpmeter as they dried out. The meter — a tool to measure green speed — was invented by a man who watched golfers suffer from what he felt were unfairly fast Oakmont greens.
Waialae was somewhere near 12 for the tournament, which accepted golfers playing to as much as a 28-handicap. The U.S. Golf Association considers 8.5 fast.
"Somehow, I don’t know why, but my putting was awesome," said Hew, who works at Ah Fook’s Supermarket in Kahului. "The greens are so fast. Maui Country Club is not really fast like this."
She took some of the agony away by hitting it close three times on the back nine, converting each short birdie putt. Chun simply stayed out of trouble — on the greens and elsewhere — and kept whacking her 3-wood.
The same week Chun won here in 2006, Hew captured the Pua Melia at Olomana Golf Links. That tournament was canceled this year because not enough golfers signed up early on. OCC is not having its "revived" invitational in 2010.
The 54-year-old Waialae Women’s Invitational is becoming more rare and valuable every year. Hew comes over for the challenge and the rare chance to play at the home of the Sony Open in Hawaii. Chun is also inspired by the layout and, admittedly, the prizes.
This year, she was also inspired by Hawaii Golf Hall of Famer Codie Cooke, who passed away last month. Cooke, who used to walk to OCC every day from her home in Moiliili, did not want a formal service. Friday, many OCC women took a walk to Cooke’s plaque on Pali Highway to honor the memory of the famous golfer.
The memory was still fresh this week, and the Hall of Famer helped Chun finish off one of her finest rounds.
Igawa moves up at Publinx
Hilo’s Chris Igawa shot a 2-under-par 69 in the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the rain-suspended U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship yesterday at Bryan Golf Park in Greensboro, N.C.
Igawa’s 147 was just above the projected cut line to advance to stroke play. The round was suspended by inclement weather with 18 players still on the course. The round will be completed this morning with a possible playoff for the final spots in the 64-player match-play field.
Three other Hawaii players missed the cut. Pahoa’s Nainoa Calip shot a 77 yesterday to finish at 11-over 153 and tied for 113th. David Saka of Waipahu was 13 over and Justin Keiley of Haiku was 14 over.