Watabu tops qualifiers for U.S. Publinx

Kellen Watabu of Kapa‘a led all qualifiers at Wailua Golf Course, yesterday. Watabu advances to play in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship next month in Colorado.

Hot and muggy weather made for tough conditions over the two rounds at the 6,991 yard, par 72 course.

Watabu had nines of 37 and 38 during the morning round of 75. In the afternoon, he had nines of 36 and 38, for a score of 74, and a total of 149.

Jonathan Ota of Lihu‘e was the first alternate, with scores of 76 and 74, for a total of 150, just 1 shot off the medal honors. Jon Burkard of Alameda, Calif., had scores of 78 and 76 to finish in the second alternate spot at 152. Watabu is the younger brother of Casey Watabu, who won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2006 and went on to play in the Master’s Tournament in Augusta, Ga.

Watabu was also the last individual from Kaua‘i to win a Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association individual state golf title (2005).

Watabu is currently attending the University of Nevada at Reno.

Other sectional qualifiers will be held on O‘ahu, Maui and the Big Island later this month. The 2008 U. S. Amateur Public Links Championship will be played July 14 through 19 at Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora, Colo.

The championship format will be two rounds of stroke play, followed by match play for the top 64 players.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA.

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