Monday, June 27, 2022 |
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Kellen Watabu has been laying off golf for a while, but recently made a comeback, qualifying to play in the Pro Am event at the recent PGA Grand Slam of Golf at the Po’ipu Bay Golf Course.
Watabu fared well in that event, and continued to roll as he picked up one of the two top finishes at the Hawai’i State Junior Golf tournament held at the Wailea Emerald golf course on Maui during the weekend of Dec. 13-14.
Thirteen Kaua’i junior golfers, or about a third of the program’s active membership finished well in the tournament sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Wan Koo Huh, and hosted by the Wailea Golf Club.
Watabu finished the tournament at 137 (70-67) for first place in the Boys 15-18 division, and was joined by TJ Kua who notched a first finish in the 13-14 Boys category with a 149 (74-75).
Sean Ogawa, a familiar figure in the KIF golf scene, finished second in the 15-18 Boys competition with a 153 (78-75) followed by Allan Baab (81-76-157) in seventh.
Noel Torres was four strokes back of Kua in the 13-14 Boys division at 153 (71-82) with Cyrus Ogawa (80-79-159) tying for fourth place in that group.
Miki Ueoka was the sole Kaua’i golfer in the 13-14 Girls division, finishing the two-day outing in second place at 156 (78-78).
Shea Shimabukuro (47-42-89) finished in the 10-Under Boys division in eighth place. Rae-lyn Morikawa (95, 92) finished fifth in the 11-12 Girls competition followed two strokes back by Malia Saiki (97, 93) in sixth place.
Jaexenne Balilea (43, 42 -85) topped the Kaua’i golfers in the 10-Under Girls competition, finishing second overall followed by Kelli Oride (43, 45 -88) in fourth place, and Taylor Viquelia (49, 45 -94) rounding out the Kaua’i showing in seventh place.
A spokesperson for the Kaua’i Junior Golf program noted that for these 13 golfers to participate in the Maui tournament, they each had to win at least one tournament.
For Watabu, the door opens only wider as his first place finish on Maui now earns him the right to play at the upcoming Sony Open that will be held later in January at the Waialae Country Club on O’ahu.
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