Claire Choi wins in a Sudden-Death Playoff during the 2017 HHSAA David S. Ishii Foundation Golf Championship at Ka’anapali Golf Courses Punahou Defends their Title and Takes Home the Team Trophy

The Royal Ka’anapali Course is a true championship course, that has tested the likes of golf’s greatest legends and today, it did not disappoint.  The last two holes challenged even the best players today and force a sudden-death playoff between Reese Guzman and Claire Choi.  Choi would come up with the tiebreaker win and take home the individual trophy in the 2017 HHSAA David S. Ishii Foundation Girls Golf Championship.  Team Punahou came from a 10-stroke deficit after round one to secure the team win for 2017 today.

Punahou team first place award during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Punahou team first place award during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Choi who posted a round of 74 (+3) today had the second best score of the day to finish off the tournament 76-74-150.  Choi struggled a bit on the front nine but played steady on the back, with a birdie on 13 and just one bogey on 17.  Guzman at 75-75-150 was a little up and down today on the front, gaining some momentum on the back nine until missing a 4-foot putt on 18th to force the playoff with Choi. The 413 yard, par 4 finishing hole at Ka’anapali was said to be “one of the toughest finishing holes on Tour” by the legendary Arnold Palmer and today it played an average of 5.94 (+1.94).

In the playoff, both Guzman and Choi had decent drives off the tee over the Ka’anapali lagoon with second shots landing in the fairway, playing it safe on the par 5 first hole (502 yards).  Guzman’s third shot landed in the greenside bunker and her fourth shot left her with a 12-footer for par.  Choi landed her third shot on the green and two putted for par.  Guzman would miss the par putt and come up just short to concede the playoff to Choi.

Thereese Guzman from Maui High hits out of the bunker on number five during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Thereese Guzman from Maui High hits out of the bunker on number five during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Guzman was the 2017 Maui Interscholastic League Champion and Maui High’s only competitor this week at the State Championship.  Guzman commented on the day, “My regular round today was okay, I got a lot of up-and-downs and was glad about that – my putting was pretty good, but I kept leaving my birdie putts short.”  She added, “I was really happy about #17 today – yesterday I bogeyed that hole and today I learned from that mistake and I was able to make par.”  As for the playoff, Guzman said, “On my approach into the green, I had the right club but I had a little mental block and instead of backing away and resetting, I went ahead with the shot.  I should have reset but maybe my nerves got the better of me.  Claire is a great player, she had won Tournament of Champions and the ILH Individuals this year and I think I let that get to me a bit in the playoff, but I definitely learned from this experience.”  This summer, Guzman plans to compete in several Hawaii State and mainland tournaments.

Choi, who clinched the playoff with a 4-foot putt for par, helped Punahou earn the Team win today.  Choi is a junior and this was her third year playing on the Varsity 1 Team and third time at States.  Choi commented on the tournament, “I had a lot of fun playing in this tournament at Ka’anapali – the golf course was in great shape.  I tried to play the smartest, safest golf possible because it was such a challenging course – you can’t be too aggressive out there.”  As for the win Choi added, “The competition was great this week and it was definitely not easy – with this win, I would like to thank Coach Ed and Coach Victor who helped me out on the course, and also my swing coach, Robert Respecio and Coach Bryce for all they have done to help me with my game.”

Going into this tournament, Punahou had won nine of the last 10 Girls State Golf Championships, Iolani earning the 2012 trophy on Kauai to break Punahou’s championship run. Tournaments at Ka’anapali quite often come down to the last few holes so it was still anyone’s trophy to take coming into the final stretch. Choi’s 74 today, combined with Kaitlyn Tonai’s 81 and Kaylee Akagi’s 82 allowed for a 242-237-479 finish (+53), one stroke ahead of Team Iolani at 232-248-480 (+54).  Tonai finished T14, Akagi; fellow teammates Alison Takamiya and Isabelle Won both finished T17 and Avery Kageyama finished T34.

Claire Choi from Punahou tees off on number four during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Claire Choi from Punahou tees off on number four during the championship round of the girls HHSAA golf tournament at Kaanapali Golf Resort in Lahaina May 2nd 2017. Photo by Aric Becker

Punahou Golf Director and former PGA General Manager at Ka’anapali Golf Courses, Ed Kageyama comments, “The girls played great, they hung in there today. We were trailing by 10 strokes going into the final round, but the girls played hard to the end and we got lucky.” Kageyama added, “As always, Ka’anapali is in great shape, it is a great venue for tournament golf and the staff does a great job of preparing the course and running this event – the kids are lucky to be able to experience such a high quality event in their high school careers.”

Iolani struggled today as a team (+35), with nerves getting the better of them during the final round. Kamie Hamada who was T1 going into today’s final round, fell eight spots back today to finish T9 at 160. Teammates Kristin Miyagi and Naomi Wong both finished T9 at 160 for the tournament.  Kalani High finished in third place with a team 487 (+61) with Team leader Miki Manta taking T6 overall.

Allysha Mae Mateo of Maryknoll posted the low round today at 72 (+1) and finished in 3rd place with 80-72-152. Malia Nam of Kaiser finished 4th with 153 and Kaley Ann Saludares of Waiakea finished 5th with 156.

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