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Taketa and Ota take home Bridgestone title at Pearl Country Club

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Suddenly, AARP is the hot club among Hawaii’s best golfers.

Reigning Aloha Section PGA Senior Player of the Year Lance Taketa and Jonathan Ota, who joins golf’s senior ranks next year, blasted past 39 teams yesterday to win the 10th annual Bridgestone Sports Pro-Scratch Championship. The tournament pairs a pro and scratch handicap amateur over two days at Pearl Country Club.

In September, 67-year-old Dave Eichelberger shot his age to win the Aloha Section’s Pro Championship. "Hopefully this is a trend," said Ota, the 2006 Manoa Cup champion who also captured the 1979 state high school championship.

He has seen the rise of Hawaii’s juniors up close and personal. Ota fell to Alex Ching’s precocious game and endless energy in the 2008 Manoa Cup final. That came just weeks after Ching won a state high school title.

Ota and Taketa shot 10-under-par 62 during Monday’s scramble format, Taketa sinking every putt his 52-year-old eyes could see.

"A bunch of long putts, a bunch," Ota said. "Off the green, dead center. He really putted unbelievably."

That left them a shot behind Kellen-Floyd Asao and Christian Akau going into yesterday’s final round at Pearl Country Club. Ota got hot in the best-ball phase. He shot 66 on his own ball, with four birdies and an eagle — hitting a 6-iron 195 yards, to six feet, on the par-5 17th hole.

"We all want to think about the long game," said Taketa, a pro at Hilo Municipal. "But it’s usually about the putting. You’ve got to putt to win. Jonathan is just a great competitor."

Taketa added two more birdies for the margin of victory over Asao and Akau (67–128) and Andrew Feldmann and Brandan Kop (66–128). The winning score of 18-under 126 was five shots off the record set by Kellan Anderson and Troy Higashiyama in 2006, and even farther from Taketa and Ota matching Eichelberger and shooting their ages.

"We’re too young to shoot our age," Ota said. "Ten more years maybe."

Taketa won $2,000 from the $10,000 purse and Ota received $600 in gift certificates.

In other golf news:

» Punahou graduate Anna Jang, the 2007 state high school champion, helped Princeton take the first-round lead at the Turtle Bay Resort College Invitational. The Tigers shot 290 with Jang, a sophomore, in fifth individually after an even-par 72 at the Palmer Course. Teammate Kelly Shon leads at 69.

Hawaii is sixth in the seven-team tournament, at 310. The Wahine are led by sophomore Kaili Britos at 72. Waiakea graduate Britney Yada, a Portland State sophomore, is at 75. The tournament ends tomorrow.

» Honolulu’s Stan Souza shot an opening-round 75 and Holualoa’s Mark Morrison 80 in the first qualifying stage for the Champions Tour at Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif. Dick Mast holds the lead, at 70. The top players at each of three regional qualifying sites advance to the final stage, Nov. 16-19 in Florida. The top five are exempt next year, with the next seven conditionally exempt.

Chan Kim, the 2006 state high school champion as a Kaimuki junior, birdied the last hole to advance out of the PGA Tour’s first stage event in California on Saturday. Kim opened with a 77, but played the final three days in 4 under par and finished at 69–289. He tied for 18th and made the cut on the number in the field of 74.

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