Park off to solid start
WAIEHU – Lucas Park has learned from some of the best in his golf career at Kamehameha Schools Maui.
The Warriors’ junior emerged as the leader after the first round of the Maui Interscholastic League individual tournament Saturday in conditions that fluctuated from stagnant and hot to windy at Waiehu Municipal Golf Course.
His 1-under-par 71 was the only score to break par in the field.
Park started with an eagle on the par-5, 512-yard first hole and followed that with a birdie on the par-3, 139-yard second. He played 2-over the rest of the way, but on this day he had a smile on his face.
“Definitely happy with a 71 today,” Park said. “(To win) would mean everything. I have been putting in a lot of time this past couple seasons and it just feels good to finally get it clicking. It’s a little surprising, but you never know in golf.
“It was really hot, no wind on the front and then it picked up on about seven and it kept blowing the rest of the day. One-under in any conditions, I’m happy with.”
Baldwin sophomore Tyler Munetake is at 73 and Lahainaluna senior Malu Rosenthal battled a sinus condition to card a 74.
A pair of Maui High freshmen, Jasmine Cabajar (76) and Kristeena Locke (79), are atop the girls leaderboard.
Park was No. 3 on the Warriors’ MIL team championship unit last season behind Aaron Kunitomo, a former league individual champion now playing at UCLA, and Kyeton Littel, now playing at UH-Hilo.
“We kind of did our own thing, but it is good to see players of that caliber,” Park said. “See how they play, how they manage the course. We all just try to play boring golf, hit fairways, hit greens.”
The state tournaments will be at Royal Kaanapali in May and the fields need to play well enough to grab one of the eight remaining individuals spots for MIL boys and six for girls. As MIL team champions Baldwin already owns five boys state spots and four for girls.
Munetake knows he will be at state for the Bears.
“It gives me a little confidence,” he said. “The pressure is gone because we have already qualified, but there’s a lot more golf to be played.”
Rosenthal knows this is a marathon with four more rounds in the next two weeks, beginning Monday at the Kapalua Bay Course.
“It’s still early, so I’m pretty happy with the results,” Rosenthal said. “I had a bad sinus infection on Wednesday and I’m just trying to recover by Monday. . . . It means the world (to get to state) because it is on my home course, so I hope to have a good shot at it.”
Cabajar was surprised to be on top of the girls list with the likes of Baldwin senior Marissa Uradomo, the defending league champion who is headed to Indiana State on a golf scholarship. Uradomo had an 81.
“I really want to be in the state tournament, so hopefully I’m in the top six,” the 4-foot-11 Cabajar said. “I’m happy with today’s round. I’m starting to get comfortable out there.”
Locke has been playing with Cabajar since they were young.
“I think I’ve known her since I was about 10, so we have been playing junior golf together. It’s really fun playing with (Cabajar), she puts up a good fight.”
The third round is Saturday at Elleaire Maui Golf Course, the fourth round is set for Pukalani Country Club April 19, and the final round is at Royal Kaanapali on April 20.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org