09 May Japan’s Toru Nakajima earns spot into U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier after a Sudden Death Playoff with Maui’s Kyle Hayashi after they both shot 69 (-2) on the Royal Ka’anapali Course
It came down to a sudden-death playoff between Wailuku’s Kyle Hayashi and Japan’s Toru Nakajima who T1 with a 69 (-2) today on the Royal Ka’anapali Course during the U.S. Open Local Qualifier. Nakajima won the playoff hole and advances to a Sectional Qualifier, which will be played on the mainland early June.
Nakajima who plays on both the Japan Tour and Asian Tour had his top placement T48 in the Fujisankei Classic in 2015. He was the 2006 Hawaii State Open Amateur Stroke Play Champion and came in second place in 2007. Nakajima also plays in the annual Pearl Open at Pearl Country Club on Oahu.
Kyle Hayashi, who came in second place last week in the Pro Flight of Ka’anapali’s 2016 BMW Ultimate Golf Challenge, has a history of playing well at Ka’anapali. Kyle won the 2014 Ka’anapali Pro Pro Championship with playing partner, David Braxton (who caddied for Kyle today).
Hayashi commented about the day, “I played well today and coming off last weekend’s event at Ka’anapali, I was feeling confident in my game.” He added, “Ka’anapali’s greens today were perfect, they’re always perfect – I actually made a few long putts today for birdie which really helped.” Continuing, “I bogeyed #16 but then followed up with a hole-out from the bunker on #17 which ended up being really good timing.”
During the playoff hole with Nakajima, Hayashi had an uncharacteristic tee shot, followed by a strong 3-wood and 6-iron which would put him in the greenside bunker. “I wasn’t worried about it but then Toru stuck his approach to just three feet so I basically had to try and hole out from the bunker.” Toru would two putt for par and win the hole.
There were a total of 27 men competing today for a berth in the 116th U.S. Open Championship, which will be played at historic Oakmont CC in Oakmont, PA June 16-19. This is the 9th time Oakmont CC will host the Championship, dating back to 1927. Qualifying today was over 18 holes of stroke play on the Royal Ka’anapali Course (par 71) with the top finisher advancing to one of 12 sectional sites.
Ka’anapali was one of 111 courses nationwide hosting regional qualifiers. In elite company, it is joined by the likes of Bethpage (NY), Pronghorn (Bend, OR), Pasatiempo (Santa Cruz, CA), Indian Ridge (Palm Dessert), TPC Summerlin (NV), and other PGA Tour and “major” tournament hosts. For more information about the Championship, visit www.usopen.com.