Tyler Ota claims another trophy in Oahu Country Club Men’s Invitational
When Tyler Ota sketched out his 2019 schedule, five tournaments were inked into his calendar. As of Saturday, all five event titles belong to the four-time reigning Hawaii State Golf Association Player of the Year.
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When Tyler Ota sketched out his 2019 schedule, five tournaments were inked into his calendar.
As of Saturday, all five event titles belong to the four-time reigning Hawaii State Golf Association Player of the Year.
Ota made it 5-for-5 this season on Saturday by weathering the winds gusting through Nuuanu Valley to finish off a one-stoke victory in the 56th Oahu Country Club Men’s Invitational.
Ota emerged with a 54-hole total of even-par 213 and claimed his second OCC Invitational title. His round of 71 on Saturday, capped by a sand save on his final hole, proved just enough for Ota to hold off Nick Ushijima and pick up his second win of the year on the hilly layout overlooking downtown Honolulu.
“It was definitely in the back of my mind,” Ota said of the streak. “That’s a little special.”
Although he’d already assembled an impressive collection of trophies and plaques over the past four years, five wins in a single season represents another milestone for the 25-year-old Moanalua graduate.
He began his year by retaining the title at the Hawaii State Amateur at Pearl Country Club in March and won the championship flight at the Mid-Pacific Open in a playoff. He captured his second Manoa Cup just about a month ago at OCC, becoming the first player to pair the state amateur stroke-play and match-play championships in the same year.
He won the Barbers Point Invitational a week before adding the OCC Invitational championship to his event title in 2015.
His now-extensive experience in closing out tournaments helped calm his nerves playing the last few holes atop a tight leaderboard.
“Just knowing what your body does under pressure situations really helps,” Ota said. “I think being in this situation a lot, I know what my tendencies are, what my misses are. That’s probably the biggest thing, so I can play away from what I have a hard time doing under pressure.”
Ota entered the final round at OCC tied for the lead with Manoa Cup runner-up Evan Kawai and Quinton Borseth, a rising junior at Seattle University, with Ushijima a shot back and playing in the group ahead.
Ushijima, a real estate developer who spends most of the year in Japan, surged ahead on Saturday and held a one-shot lead on the back nine.
Ota stayed close with a birdie on No. 6 and moved into a tie for the lead when Ushijima bogeyed No. 8. When Ushijima finished with bogey on the par-3 ninth, Ota knew he was two pars away from a win.
After he tapped in for par on No. 8, Ota’s tee shot on the 239-yard ninth hole drifted into the left bunker. He effectively snuffed the hopes of those behind him when his shot out of the sand rolled within 3 feet of the pin.
“I hit that bunker shot perfect,” Ota after dropping the clinching par putt. “I don’t think I could probably do it again.”
Ushijima added a runner-up finish overall to his win in the mid-amateur flight, which he wrapped up with a round of 69 on Friday.
“I haven’t been playing very much the last few years and trying to get my game back in shape,” said Ushijima, 55. “It hasn’t been very good in the last few years so this is actually good progress even though bogey-bogey wasn’t very good. But up until then, at least I can compete with the young guys.”
Kawai, a University of San Diego sophomore, and Borseth carded rounds of 73 and tied for third with Santa Clara junior Zackary Kaneshiro at 2-over 215.