Preus’ victory leads Punahou to team crown

KAANAPALI – Heading to the 14th hole in the final round of the David S. Ishii Foundation Boys Golf State Championship, Kalena Preus was tied atop the leaderboard, with the defending champion a shot back.

Preus, a Punahou School senior, would eagle the hole, going on to win his first individual title and lead his school to its third team crown in four years.

“I’m still in shock,” Preus said after shooting a 4-under-par 67 on Wednesday at the Royal Kaanapali Course for a 6-under total of 136, good for a two-stroke victory. “I think as a team we did an awesome job. Our main goal here was staying together as a team, bonding as a team and focusing as a team – you know, there’s never one individual.”

Moanalua’s John Oda (72), who was bidding for a second straight title, was the runner-up.

Punahou posted a 2-under 282 as a team in the second round to finish at 7-under 561, 19 shots better than Moanalua (288), last year’s champ.

Entering the final round, Punahou’s P.J. Samiere held a three-shot lead over Oda, with Preus another stroke behind.

Double bogeys on 7 and 16, however, were part of Samiere’s round of 76, which dropped him into third place at 1-under 141.

Oda made an early move with birdies on the third and fourth holes, but had just one more in his round, on No. 13, while making bogey on 5, 9, 16 and 17.

Preus had six birdies and four bogeys in his round.

“For a senior going away, to finally do it I think it’s good,” said Punahou coach Ed Ka-geyama. “He turned it on late in the tournament when he really needed to, and he played like a champion down the stretch.”

After a birdie on the 13th, Preus advanced to the 260-yard, par-4 14th, where he drove his tee shot within 10 feet of the hole.

“Coach had given me a great read there,” he said. “I asked him, ‘How hard is the hole playing?’ and he said, ‘It’s playing over par.’ Placement off the tee is key if you want to make birdie.”

He sank his eagle putt and finished his round strong with a birdie on the 18th.

“Winning as an individual is great, but I wasn’t really focused on that,” said Preus, whose highest finish in state competition had been third, in 2011. “Winning as a team and with the guys on the team is better than any other feeling. I couldn’t imagine any better way to end my senior year.”

Malu Rosenthal of Lahai-naluna and Baldwin’s Ariel Elftman-Hanson were the top two MIL players. Rosenthal (73) tied for 11th with a 149, while Elftman-Hanson (77) tied for 16th with a 151.

“I’m pretty disappointed,” said Elftman-Hanson, a junior, who played in the final group. “I did well yesterday, I put myself in there, but four three-putts in the last round-I kind of struggled in the back nine. It’s just all mental.”

Lahainaluna’s Lucas Bell entered the final round tied for seventh and in the second-to-last group, but closed with an 83 to finish at 157.

“It was rough out there, my putter let me down today,” the sophomore said. “I learned a lot watching how everybody carries themselves out there, though. It was just a good experience and I had a lot of fun.”

* Chris Sugidono is at