Ching, Yada take first-round lead at states

WAILUA — Alina

Ching of Punahou and Britney Yada of Waiakea lead the pack in the David S. Ishii Foundation/Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association Girls Golf Championships yesterday at the Wailua Golf Course.

Ching and Yada both posted a 2-under 70 in groups that finished early in the day.

“I was really focused. It’s not normal,” said

Ching.

The freshman who is competing in her first high school state tournament said she is usually playful on the course and can be chatty. But that wasn’t the case yesterday.

Ching was one of the first to come in, having teed off at in the second group of the morning. She had a good start and rode that momentum throughout the rest of her round.

Teeing off on the 10th hole, Ching used her driver to set her up with good positioning for her approach. Her second shot landed her on the green and made a good, three-feet roll for an easy tap-in for birdie. She would go on to birdie the next hole as well.

“It just kind of worked out for me. I got lucky,” she said.

She was lucky at least for the first half because on the tail-end of her front nine, her game started to fall apart.

“I bogeyed the last four holes on the front nine, so on the back nine I just turned it back on,” she said. “I was hitting the greens and making the putts.”

This was not the case for her teammate and defending state champion Anna Jang. Jang, playing in a later group, finished at 2-over 74.

“I thought my short game would be good and my long game not as much, but it was the opposite,” she said.

Jang currently sits at fourth place, behind Ching, Yada, and Moanalua’s Kristina Merkle (71).

“I was just not trusting (my short game),” Jang said. “On the 18th hole, my ninth hole, I three-putted, which was not good.”

Still, this was the best she’d ever shot at Wailua, having practiced here nearly two weeks ago. But as the defending champion and a member of the state championship team, Jang said she feels no pressure for a repeat.

“Last year was last year,” she said. “I’ll be practicing my putting and try to get the feel of the greens instead of thinking about it too much.”

Kapa‘a High School’s Gabby Saiki had an “up and down” round yesterday and didn’t shoot as well as she would have liked.

“My timing was off. (My game) was good and then bad and then back up again,” she said. “I was in bad positions and kept shooting pars.”

Saiki finished tied with three other girls at 8-over 80.

The Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation champion, Kelli Oride of Kaua‘i High School, felt that she too had a disappointing round with a 5-over 77. The freshman started her round on the 10th hole with two bogeys in a row and couldn’t pull herself out of the rut.

“I just couldn’t get anything good going,” she said. “I made one birdie and the rest was trouble. My drives put me in pretty tough positions.”

Oride said she will try to get some rest and come back for the final round ready to make a comeback.

“Hopefully, I’ll pull off something amazing,” she said.

The championship ends today and the boys state championships will start next week.

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