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Inside Hawaii Golf - Tournament Golf

"The Pulse of Competitive Golf in the Aloha State"

Hilo Invitational Pro-Am & Golf Tournament, 2005

Hilo Municipal Golf Course - February 25-27

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Kellen-Floyd Asao (left) and Host Professional Kevin Hayashi (right)


2.27.05- A short birdie putt on the first playoff hole is all Kellen-Floyd Asao needed to capture the 8th annual Hilo Invitational Pro-Am and Golf tournament.  Asao becomes the second amateur to win the title in as many years. Last year, UH-Hilo’s Nick Mason captured the crown to become the first amateur to win the tournament. Playing two groups in front of the leaders, Asao shot 67 in his final round to finish 71-67 (138), 4-under par, tying Garrett Okamura after regulation play. Okamura, along with first round co-leader Jonathan Ota, both opened with 68’s but could only manage to shoot 70 and 71 respectively. The UH-Manoa senior took full advantage of his driving distance by birdying all the par fives, and carding another birdie on the 15th, with a lone bogey on the 9th hole. 

Ota finished the tournament at 3-under par (139), one stroke out of the playoff and claimed solo third. Amateurs topped this year’s leader board as Jarett Hamamoto, another UH-Manoa golfer, tied for fourth shooting 70-71 (141).

A playoff was also needed to decide the low professional title. It was a battle of two professionals from Hilo as Ivan Cunningham (right) pared the first playoff hole to defeat David Kim and take the five thousand dollar winner’s check. Pearl Country Club’s David Ishii fired a final round 69 to take third place honors. 

Asao felt comfortable even if his swing troubled him during the first round. “I knew the golf course enough, so I just tried to grind it out”, said Asao. “If I stayed around par the first day, that was good. I got to work on my swing this morning, and putted well”.   “I knew that Garrett was playing solid, so I had to make as many birdies as I could”. 

Cunningham also was pleased with his performance. “I was surprised that I got into the playoff. No way I thought that 1-under was gonna decide it”, Cunningham said. “Next thing I knew Kevin (Hayashi) was calling me to the tee. I am really happy cause this is my first one”. 

Contestants battled nagging rains and tricky greens over the past three days and tournament officials were pleased to have attracted another quality field. “With the limited amount of tournaments we have available now, it’s great to see our friends support the championship”, said a spokesperson. “The pro-am and the dedicated sponsors help make the tournament a huge success. We helped two charities this year, The American Cancer Society and The Big Island Diabetes Education and Counseling Center.” “We are proud to have the tremendous support of the businesses as well as the contestants in our annual event.” 

This year’s pro-am winners are from Team Hilo Termite and Pest Control.  Players included professional Troy Sato, along with amateur partners Steven Ono, Nicholas Cho and Kirk Usui. During the pro-am awards, professional Jeff Palmer of Big Island Country Club and Bob Crudele were this year’s Jan-Ken-Po champions, defeating master Jan-Ken-Po specialist Lance “Always Make Scissors” Taketa.

Story & photo's submitted by Lee Hardy, Hilo Municipal Golf Course Assistant Professional

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