Punahou’s Choi steps up to win second state crown

Punahou's Claire Choi won her second straight girls state golf championship Wednesday at the Turtle Bay Fazio Course. She finished the 36-hole tournament at 1-under 143. Nick Abramo / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Punahou senior Claire Choi is now a two-time girls state golf champion.

And she is glad Wednesday was not anything like April 24. On that day, she was sick, slept late and wound up losing the ILH title she had won as a junior to teammate Karissa Kilby.

On Wednesday, she stayed true and steady, carding a 2-under 70 to go along with her first-round 73 for a winning total of 1-under 143 in the David S. Ishii Foundation Girls State Golf Championships at the Turtle Bay Fazio Course.

Three others were in the chase for most of the day, but Choi held them off with two birdies and no bogeys on her final nine.

When Choi finished her round, it took a while for her to know if she won or not. She was in the second-to-last group and had to wait until the final group came to the scorer’s table.

She knew she was ahead of playing partner Allysha Mae Mateo of Maryknoll, who was in contention most of the way but dropped out with a double bogey on the second-to-last hole (the Fazio 8th).

In the final group, Maui’s Reese Guzman, who was in striking distance the entire day, checked in at even par for the round and finished the tournament at 1-over 145 and in second place for the second year in a row.

Guzman, a junior, has one more chance at a state crown and admits that a loss to Choi in a playoff during the 2017 state tournament has been erased from her memory.

“It’s hard knowing you placed second again,” Guzman said. “But good for Claire.”

Malia Nam, the three-time OIA champ who was also in the final threesome, overcame a first-nine 39 with a second-nine 34. At one point, she was 4 over for the tournament and wound up in third at 2-over 146.

Choi was super happy, not only for her second individual state title, but also for the Buffanblu’s one-stroke victory over ‘Iolani for the team title — and most of all, for not having another day like the 9-over 82 from April 24.

“We were late, I was rushing that day,” Choi said. “I forgot my cart and my umbrella and it was raining. It was just a bad day in general and I was not feeling well. Kind of under the weather.”

Despite that forgettable day, Choi finished her career on the most positive note possible Wednesday and will look ahead to graduation and a golfing career at the University of Santa Clara.

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