Every year in late April, a lot of golf fans can be seen milling about outside of the Turtle Bay Golf pro shop.
They’re waiting for OIA officials to post scores on the big board of the golfers finishing up the league championships on the final hole.
By the time the golfers get to the last, usually a few people have an idea of who the winners will be. But none of it is final until the scorecards are verified.
This was an unusual year. On Tuesday, nobody knew who actually won either the boys or the girls events — not even the golfers — until about 10 minutes after they finished. Scores are not posted anywhere else on the course.
This year, there was at least one person who had a real inkling of who won the girls OIA championship. That would be Leilehua coach Traci Kashiwabara. She was walking the course with the lead group, armed with a scorecard that she was keeping and knowledge of how the top three girls had done in the first 18 of 36 holes played Monday.
So, when the Mules’ Leia Chung — who Kashiwabara coaches — let fly with a 20-foot birdie putt on the Turtle Bay Fazio Course’s ninth hole (they played the back nine first), she really didn’t know if it was for a tie, to win or to place second or third.
“I had no idea,” Chung said. “I wasn’t keeping track of my score. I knew what I had on each hole and wrote it down on the scorecard (but was not adding it up). I knew it was close.”
It was close indeed. Chung’s birdie putt rolled in, giving her a two-round total of even-par 145, which was one shot better than Moanalua’s Tagiralani Luafalealo, whose tears after losing were oh-so real. Despite birdieing four of her last six holes, she finished in second place for the second year in a row, and she will try again next year as a senior.
It was not a total loss. Luafalealo’s two-putt par on the final hole clinched Na Menehune’s 11th team title overall and first since 2013.
The petite Chung, who is only a freshman, can try for three more league individual crowns in the coming years.
“She has a lot of potential,” Kashiwabara said. “She has the game. and her course management is excellent. Very good etiquette. And she’s pretty focused.”
“I always want to encourage people,” Chung said. “I feel like if they’re not doing good, I want to say it’s OK. It’s just a sport. You just have to have fun.”
She had kind words for Luafalealo afterward. They consider each other great friends.
“She did really well, four birdies in a row,” Chung said. “She almost dunked it. It was amazing.”
Moanalua’s team victory put an end to Kaiser’s four-year reign.
On the boys side, Kalani’s Curtis Meares somehow didn’t let the championship escape him after a first-round 70. He followed up with a disappointing 78, but still won at 4-over 148.
Kaiser’s Toby Baladad came up with his only birdie of the day on the final hole to sew up second place, one shot back.
Complicating matters for those who wanted to know who won the boys individual title before the score got posted was Meares’ proclamation to his teammates that he didn’t play very well all day while walking off the final hole.
Kalani’s title represented the first OIA team championship in 42 years, and it broke Moanalua’s 12-year reign. The Falcons also won titles in 1976 and ’77, when golf was a coed sport.
TOP 3 FINISHERS
1, Kalani 320-307–627
2. Mililani 340-331–671
3. Campbell 332-365–697
1. Moanalua 247-235–482
2. Kaiser 244-239–483
3. Mililani 269-274–543
1. Curtis Meares, Kalani, 70-78–148
2. Toby Baladad, Kaiser, 72-77–149
3. Jacob Pritchard, Roosevelt, 72-90–152
1. Leia Chung, Leilehua, 74-70–144
2. Tagiralani Luafalealo, Moanalua, 73-72–145
3. Jae Eun Park, Roosevelt, 74-73–147