Officially, Hawaii went wire to wire to win the 2010 Girls Junior America’s Cup, leading since Tuesday when it was the only team to break par in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Unofficially, the island girls staged a gritty rally late yesterday to overcome Oregon’s six-shot lead and capture Hawaii’s second Cup since the event started in 1978. The other win came in 1992.
Behind co-medalist Cassy Isagawa, Hawaii beat Oregon by three shots at Morgan Run Golf Club. The reigning state high school champion received ample help from Alina Ching and Cyd Okino, who shared fifth place, and Kacie Komoto, who ended up 24th.
Hawaii’s team score (best three of four golfers) in the final round was 1-over-par 217, and its three-day total was even-par 648. Oregon shot a final-round 216 to finish at 651. Northern California (213–653) pulled ahead of British Columbia to take third.
The annual tournament brings together squads from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. There were 18 teams this year, with each represented by four of its finest juniors.
None could catch Hawaii, which featured three high school seniors and Komoto, a sophomore who joined Okino and Ching last season to help Punahou win its fourth straight state team title.
"The reason we did so well is the team was so close with each other," said Isagawa. "Kacie, Cyd and Alina are already teammates, so they’re close and I’ve been really good friends with them a long time. Our bond was really strong. That’s what helped. We know if we’re struggling we have each other to lean on."
Isagawa, a Baldwin senior headed to Oregon in 2011, closed with a rush to shoot 1-under 71 and finish at 2-under 214. She tied Brittany Mai, of San Diego, who shot yesterday’s low round (69).
Isagawa was 1 over after 14 holes, then birdied the 15th and 18th. Okino, who shot 72–217, was 3 over through 14 holes and birdied the next three.
The deficit was history.
"The 15th was a long putt," said Okino, a two-time State Women’s Match Play Championship winner headed for Washington in 2011. "I wasn’t expecting it to go in because I’d been putting horribly all day. It dropped, and I thought, ‘OK, cool.’ "
Ching, on her way to Pepperdine in a year, had a final-round 74. Last month, she became the first female to advance to the third round of the Manoa Cup. Komoto, who missed defending her State Women’s Stroke Play Championship to play in the Cup, shot 78–228.
"We never really discussed winning," Okino said. "We didn’t want to get ourselves too scared or nervous. We tried to never think we were ahead, always believe we were tied or losing, that way we’d try harder.
"We played very well. The rounds were not easy."
Isagawa is the first medalist from Hawaii since Mari Chun in 2004. Natalie Nakamura won the individual title in 1994 and Elisha Au in 1995. Other medalists include Lorena Ochoa and Pat Hurst.
Isagawa and Okino will play in the 35th Junior PGA Championship next week in Indiana.