‘Iolani golfer Kengo Aoshima has big aspirations.
The 2014 Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion who was the runner-up in 2015 and 2017, Aoshima has played in events overseas and will see how he fares in college at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., next fall.
“I’m going to continue golfing there,” he said. “There’s work I need to do; definitely scoring ability. I’m probably not going to grow any more, but there are guys out there who are are not physically big and they can still win big tournaments. Johnny Oda (the state champion in 2012 at Moanalua and 2014 at Punahou) is killing it at UNLV. He’s (43rd) in the world (World Amateur Golf Ranking). He proves he can get it done with his physique. I’m not disrespecting him or anything, but it means you don’t have to be 6 feet and swing a golf club super fast.”
Aoshima, who will conclude his high school career May 1-2 in the state tournament at Kaanapali Resort on Maui, takes pride in the fact that many great golfers have come out of Wake Forest, including Arnold Palmer, Lanny Wadkins and Curtis Strange.
“The list goes on and on,” he said. “Being in that environment, I think it will push me automatically. The guys that I’m going up there with are the best in the country.”
As an added incentive, Aoshima gives Palmer, who died in September and who he refers to as Mr. Palmer, a symbolic tip of his cap.
“On my golf ball, I’ve written ‘PLA’ every time since I committed to Wake Forest,” he said. “It stands for play like Arnie. As everyone says, he was a great guy. I was fortunate to meet him when I was 5 and I can remember it a little.”
Some other Hawaii high school golfers will move on to play in college next year, too, including ILH champion Andrew Chin (BYU) of Punahou, Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Jun Ho Won (Boise State) of Moanalua, Mid-Pacific’s Zackary Kaneshiro (Santa Clara), Maryknoll’s Allysha-Mae Mateo (BYU), Kamehameha’s Lori Char (Rutgers), and ‘Iolani’s Naomi Wong (Santa Clara).
Two girls from the OIA have committed early, despite being juniors. OIA girls champion Malia Nam of Kaiser has given an oral commitment to USC, and the girl she beat in a nine-hole playoff, OIA runner-up Miki Manta of Kalani, said she is committed to Sacramento State.