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Inside Hawaii Golf - Tournament Golf

"The Pulse of Competitive Golf in the Aloha State"

Hilo Invitational Golf Tournament, 2007

Hilo Municipal Golf Course - February 24 & 25

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Kevin Carll Wins!

Pictured above from left to right is Lance Taketa, co-chairperson, Pono Calip, Kevin Carll, and Kevin Hayashi, co-chairperson


2.25.2007-- Turtle Bay Resort’s Head Golf Professional Kevin Carll, 31, lit it up with a 6-under 65 in the final round to win the Hilo Invitational by one stroke over 16 year old Pono Calip and professional Joe Phengsavath.


Carll opened with an even par 71 in the first round, but finished shooting 34-31 despite a 3-putt bogey on the final hole. Calip (67-70), along with professional Jerry Mullen (67-71) were the first round co-leaders. Professional Joe Phengsavath (68-69) tied for second overall with Calip, this year’s low amateur.


In an event that has been taken over by amateurs in the past three years, Calip almost denied the professionals a victory this year. It was in the final stretch of holes that sealed the victory for Carll—despite his hiccup on the last hole.


“I knew I might be getting close to the lead as I played the back nine. I was hitting the driver good and putting well too”, Carll said. His round included an eagle, six birdies, and two bogeys—both of them 3-putts. Even with those missed par putts, “I was still putting well.”


“When I got to 18 (the final hole of the tournament), I got a little greedy on the birdie putt and ended up making bogey. I thought at that point it cost me the tournament”, he said. “I was very disappointed for about a good thirty minutes after the round.” So when professional “Joe P.” went to Carll to tell him he had won, all the 2007 champion could say was “what a relief.”


And being a modified shotgun start, there is no definite was to know where you stand after your round—since the leaders would take almost another 45 minutes finish up.


Just about the time Carll was recording his bogey on the final hole, Calip was feeling the pressure of playing the final holes of championship golf. “I struggled with my golf swing today”, admits Calip. “I hit a lot of poor tee shots…I hit a lot of greens somehow. It was my putter that kept saving me.”


Going into the par three16th, Calip was bogey free for the day. With birdies on 4, 5, and 14, he stood on the tee at 7-under par with three holes to play. “I hit it to the back of the green, and had about 30 feet.” After leaving his first putt 8 feet short, the Kamehameha-Hawaii junior could not convert and dropped a stroke.


After a not-so routine par on the following hole, Calip found himself with a 150-yard approach shot into the final hole. “I thought if I make par that might win the tournament.”


The steady iron play of the past two days vanished as he pushed out an 8-iron and with that came an unexpected wake up call. “I aimed a little right of the pin and it just went right…probably one of the few I missed right all day”, said Calip.


After chipping to about 15 feet, Calip found out really fast what it is like to have people watching you, and how much focus is needed to perform under the gun. “With the crowd around the green, I could feel how nervous I was” he said.


And as the golf course did to Carll minutes ago, it again delivered—this time an untimely bogey to Calip. “I just put a bad stroke on that putt.”


But the experience he gains from this has already set him in the right direction, and he readily states it. “It feels good to win the low-am honors. But in my eyes, I feel I lost the tournament. It just is disappointing ending like that.”


However, there are positives this young man can take from what he just went through. This IS his first amateur crown in a big event. It is also the first time he has ever finished under par, and it has to be sweeter having it happen in a tournament.


“This gives me confidence to enter more tournaments”, said Calip.


As Kevin Carll and Pono Calip accepted their crystal trophies, Carll also shared a little about how much it means to be in Hilo. “It is so relaxing to come over here. It is always a joy because of the old faces I get to see again. I’ve been playing this event 4 or 5 times now, and I’ve met wonderful people in the pro-am and in the tournament.”


“It is such a fun tournament, I think I laughed more in the last two days than I did in over four months. And it helps me get into a relaxed mind set, it spills over from the pro-am to the tournament rounds”, Carll added.


“Plus I grew up playing golf at a municipal course, so it is more special to be in Hilo—all the people, the clubhouse being right here—this is how I learned.”


Since he loves to see the Hilo Invitational on the schedule, I guess he cannot wait to return next year.




Kevin Carll will receive five thousand dollars of the fifteen thousand dollar purse for his first place victory. Amateurs will receive gift certificates of their choice from KTA Superstores, Hilo Muni proshop, or Sears. There was also a senior division for those players over 50 years old. They were allowed to “double-dip” in both purses, with Leland Lindsay taking first place and five hundred dollars.




We also had a hole in one today. Professional Ross Mitsutani, of Keolu Golf Course, aced the 13th hole with a 6 iron. The distance today was 187 yards. This was Mitsutani’s first hole in one. Witnessing his ace were professionals Herman Manalili, Mits Nakamoto, and former Big Island amateur champion Doug Oki.

 Sorry Ross, no car for you—Rich Beem took our last one.




This year, the Hilo Invitational Pro Am and Golf Tournament donated four thousand dollars to two recipients—East Hawaii Special Olympics and the Big Island Junior Golf Association. Both recipients received two thousand dollars. The Hilo Invitational has raised and donated over twenty five thousand dollars to various charity organizations over the past ten years. Final full field scores now posted click here.


Story by Lee Hardy


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