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Local surfers help LPGA golfer find keys at Makaha Beach

Mindy Pennybacker
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Pro golfer Tiffany Joh with Richard Aipa, right, a fellow surfer who helped Joh search for her keys in the sand at Makaha Beach today.

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Tiffany Joh is pictured during the final round of the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix on March 18.

When Waianae resident Teene Froiseth returned to Makaha Beach after paddling his one-man canoe offshore this morning, he noticed a man and a young woman frantically searching in the sand.

“They were digging up the beach, looking for her rental car keys,” Froiseth wrote in an email to the Honoulu Star-Advertiser.

Turned out it the woman was professional golfer Tiffany Joh, who had arrived in Hawaii on Sunday for the 2018 LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club. She drove to Makaha today for an early morning surf before a scheduled tournament practice round.

“I buried my car key in the sand, paddled out at sunrise and surfed for maybe 40-50 minutes, with only one other surfer out,” Joh said by phone from Ko Olina. “When I came out, I couldn’t figure out where I’d buried it!”

Enter local surfer Richard Aipa, who told her, “‘Hey, you’re that golfer!’” Joh added that Aipa said he recognized her from photos published with a column in Sunday’s Star-Advertiser.

“I was wearing that same bucket hat,” Joh said. “As we talked, he noticed my kind of casual sifting of the sand with my foot, and asked if I’d lost something. When I said my key, he asked, ‘What did you mark it with?’”

Joh said she had marked the spot with a shell.

“We looked around, and there were, like, a million shells on the beach!” she remembered with a low, infectious laugh.

Aipa let her borrow his phone to call her caddy, whom she was supposed to meet at 9:30 a.m. at the golf course, and helped her search in the sand for an hour and a half, putting off his own surf session despite the nice conditions with glassy, 1- to 3-foot waves.

They were joined by Froiseth, a retired city lifeguard captain, who called lifeguard Lt. Danny Kim, who brought his metal detector. Another man brought a sand sifter.

Finally, someone saw the key partially protruding from the sand, and said he’d always been lucky finding things.

“I think some people have luck with finding things, some people have luck with finding money,” Joh later posted on Instagram. “I have ALWAYS had luck with finding great people, and this island is filled with them.”

A big swell is predicted for western shores tomorrow. Asked if she was going to hazard another morning sesh before tomorrow’s pro-am tournament at Ko Olina, “I’ll probably check it out in the a.m. but won’t go out if it’s too big!”

As for her car key: “There are a couple of caddies staying in a condo right there at Makaha, and I’ll leave it with them.”

She’d learned her lesson, Joh said, but she’d also enjoyed making new friends.

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