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Defending champ Ma works OT to advance

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    Matthew Ma got a kiss from his girlfriend

Short of the movie "Caddyshack," it is tough to imagine goofier golf than the opening round of the Manoa Cup at Oahu Country Club.

Tuesday’s first round of the 105th state amateur match play championship basically threw Monday’s seedings to the wind, starting with the top of the heap.

Matthew Ma, the top-seeded defending champion, needed to go overtime to reach today’s second round. So did third-seeded Ryan Kuroiwa, who shared medalist honors with PJ Samiere on Monday after both shot brilliant 66s.

Second-seeded Samiere is out, falling to McKinley graduate Wenhao Luo, who had to get through a playoff Monday just to get into match play. So did Kaiser High senior Arnold Chung, who lost to Ma’s par on the 19th hole, and Tyler Isono, who fell to Kuroiwa’s bogey on the 19th.

Samiere has shown a penchant for going low lately, placing third in the state high school championship and shooting 66-68 Saturday to win a tee time at the U.S. Public Links. He was 1 under Tuesday, but Luo went lower and never bothered to bogey. Samiere eagled their first hole and held his advantage through three, but Luo won five of the next six.

Isono birdied the final two of regulation to force extra holes with Kuroiwa, a University of Hawaii junior who was the 2011 OIA champion.

Chung was 1 up on Ma after he drained a 25-footer for birdie from the fringe at the 16th, but three-putted the next hole to square the match a fourth time.

Both bogeyed the last hole of regulation and bunkered their approaches at the first extra hole. Ma blasted out to 4 feet. Chung, one foot in the back of the bunker and the other out, could not get his golf ball to stay on the green. His chip for par missed, and so did a putt for bogey before he conceded.

A year ago, in Ma’s intrepid march to his first Manoa Cup, he beat 12-year-old Evan Kawai on the 19th hole of the first round. Then and Tuesday, Ma, 28, felt his opponent deserved to win.

"He (Chung) was kind of bummed when we were walking in and, I didn’t tell him, but I thought he played better than I did," said Ma, an ‘Iolani graduate and coach who played for Oregon. "He’s definitely not a 64 seed. He’s looking at colleges and I told him to keep it up. He can play somewhere."

Thoughts of last year’s narrow win over Kawai were in the back of his head all through the back nine.

"I got two down and last year I was two down with Evan," Ma recalled. "I played in a few of these, and in college and all these other tournaments, so I knew the experience part was definitely on my side. The more you put yourself in that situation …I don’t think it’s necessarily easier, I just think you learn how to handle it. Your thought process matures. You kind of slow it down."

Kawai, the youngest player in the field, reached the second round this time. The Punahou eighth-grader is coming off a win in the Francis Brown Four-Ball with former UH golfer Jared Sawada, who also advanced. Kawai was tied with Keegan Loo after six holes Tuesday, then won four of seven.

Ma would see Kawai again if both win today.

Four-time champion Brandan Kop never trailed against UH Hilo senior Nick Matsushima. Last year’s runner-up got a classic look at Kop’s game on his home course. The Hawaii Golf Hall of Famer was 3 up after six holes. He lost to bogey on the ninth, but matched Matsushima’s birdie on the next hole when he hit through a 3-foot opening in the trees — from the 15th fairway — to within 2 feet.

Matsushima would not get within two again. The only fairway Kop missed was the 10th, and a new putter that he bent gave him a better feel on the greens. He plays NCAA D-III champ Bradley Shigezawa today.

The second round begins this morning when Ma and Kyosuke Hara go out at 7. The Round of 16 is Thursday, with quarterfinals and semifinals Friday and the 36-hole final Saturday.

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