Samiere up by three at Royal Kaanapali

KAANAPALI – With most of the field feeling the blazing sun and pressure, PJ Samiere enjoyed his stroll over the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course on Tuesday.

The Punahou School junior shot a 6-under-par 65 to take a three-shot lead at the midway point of the David S. Ishii Foundation boys state golf tournament.

Defending champion John Oda of Moanalua is at 68, tied for second with Skye Inakoshi of Mid-Pacific. Kalena Preus of Punahou is fourth at 69, and Moanalua’s Brent Grant is the only other golfer under par after a 70.

Baldwin’s Ariel Elftman-Hanson and Lahainaluna’s Lucas Bell are the top Maui Interscholastic League players, each tied for seventh at 74. Lahainaluna’s Rhett Wiseman is at 75.

Samiere sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the 519-yard par-5 first hole. He followed with birdies on Nos. 6, 8, 9, 13, 14 and 18. His lone bogey came on the 424-yard par-4 11th.

“I’m very pleased with that round,” said the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Samiere. “I made a lot of putts, hitting all of the fairways. Yeah, I played really well today.”

The Buffanblu fired a 5-under 279 to lead the team chase by 13 strokes over Moanalua. MIL champion Baldwin is fourth at 312.

Oda, a junior who has verbally committed to Nevada-Las Vegas, had a 6:50 a.m. tee time with Preus in the third group of the day.

“My mindset is try to make no bogeys out there, do my best,” Oda said. “Even par is always a good score, so that was my goal and I just made a few birdies.”

The plan worked well as he finished with no bogeys, and birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 12.

“I’m very pleased with that,” Oda said. “Anytime you are under par, especially on a course this tough, with pin placements like this, and the greens are so undulated, it’s good to shoot under par.”

Last week, Punahou freshman Mariel Galdiano fired the only two rounds under par in the girls tournament on the same course, winning by seven strokes, while the Buffanblu won the team crown by a record 37 strokes.

Samiere and his teammates were paying attention.

“There is a little inspiration,” Samiere said. “I definitely want to represent Punahou well, that is always on my mind. I wanted to try my best, do the best I could for myself.”

The Punahou boys counted only one score over par on Tuesday – Zachary Braunthal’s 74.

“Definitely, it is very competitive in practice,” Samiere said. “We like to have a good time – it definitely helps, we try to push each other. . . . Seeing the girls scores definitely pushes us – we want to win, too, for Punahou.”

Today he will play in the last group with Oda, Inakoshi and Elftman-Hanson at 10:20 a.m.

“I’m just going to take it as a whole new day,” Samiere said. “Take each shot by itself, try not to focus too much on the final outcome, just take it one shot at a time.”

The Buffanblu’s coach, Ed Kageyama, is also the general manager of the Kaanapali golf courses. Punahou got in two practice rounds on the course, while most teams had one.

“That really helped,” Samiere said.

The temperature made conditions tough.

“It was really hot out there, but it wasn’t too humid, so it wasn’t that bad,” Samiere said. “The winds were really calm throughout the whole day, except for my final three holes when it blew a little bit. It was really good scoring conditions today.”

Leaving the ball on the right side of the flag was “very important,” Samiere said. “These greens are really fast out here today. I did that fairly well. There were a few times when I put the ball in the wrong place, but I was lucky enough to make some good up-and-downs.”

Elftman-Hanson, of Baldwin, made a 10-foot eagle putt on the 485-yard par-5 ninth in a roller-coaster round. He finished with a double bogey on 16, a bogey on 17 and chipped in for par on 18.

“There wasn’t that much wind out there, so it was scoreable,” Elftman-Hanson said. “The pins were pretty available, so you could attack them at times. The back nine is a tough finish, so you just have to hang in there.”

Elftman-Hanson said things could change in a hurry down the stretch today.

“You just have to hang around on the back, make some pars, try to finish strong those last three holes,” he said. “I have pretty much nothing to lose now – just try to make birdies, hunt greens, two-putt when I need to, and try to get aggressive on those birdie putts.”

MIL champion Malu Rosenthal of Lahainaluna woke up with a “stinger” in his left arm and struggled to a 76, tied for 19th.

“It was perfect scoring conditions, you just had to put the ball in the right place and make putts,” said Rosenthal, who will play collegiately at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore. “I have nothing to lose, so I will just give it all I got and see what happens (today).”

* Robert Collias is at