LIHUE — Kapaa High School senior Bryden Salvador was abruptly woken by his father, Nelson, Wednesday morning. When he came to, he had a letter in his hand.
He read it, signed it and went about his day as if nothing happened.
“I didn’t really fully grasp it,” Salvador said Friday. “It didn’t really sink in. I read it. Then later in the day, it sank in like, ‘Oh wow. I got a letter. It happened.’”
That document was a letter of intent from the University of Hawaii. Come this fall, he will be attending classes at UH and joining the men’s golf team.
“I was happy and thankful. I was like, ‘Oh wow. It’s an honor to actually play for a university.’ I had no words. I was just speechless,” the Kapaa senior said. “I had no idea. I just waited patiently and see what happens.”
Salvador has played the sport since he was 10 years old. He’s played with the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association for the past seven years. About the time he entered high school, he started getting attention for his play on the links.
“When people would talk to me, when they would see how I play and see how I swing, they would always encourage me,” he said. “They said I could play college, or I could be the next Tiger Woods maybe.”
He’s also played for Kapaa High the past four years and won last year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation individual boys’ championship.
“It was like a blur. It was too fast, honestly,” Salvador said about the past four years at Kapaa. “It’s coming to a close. It’s kind of bittersweet. I still remember the first time I played.”
“(I’ll miss) the bond with my coaches and my teammates. Just stuck it out through all the ups and downs we had, and all the laughs we had,” he added.
He’ll join UH men’s golf coach Ronn Miyashiro at Manoa. Miyashiro couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.
In addition, Salvador will join fellow Kauaiian and Kauai High School alumnus Justin “Pono” Tokioka, who also plays golf for the university.
“I asked (Tokioka) how’s the schedule and how things were. He would give me a thumbs up and tell me to come,” Salvador said. “Having someone familiar there would help. I would feel more comfortable having someone to talk to and not feel like a stranger.”
Salvador said he was interested in a few other schools, but is excited to play on Oahu because “the Mainland is a bit too far.”
Salvador said he’s considering studying business. As for golf, he looks forward to playing against stiff competition and intends to quickly make his mark.
“I would say it’s very tough. There’s always someone better than me. But that’s kind of like motivation — to strive and work hard to get to the top and show what you got,” he said.