Baldwin claims MIL golf crown

KAANAPALI – Kimberlie Miyamoto has been here before.

Standing in the 18th fairway at the Kaanapali Kai Golf Course on Wednesday, the Baldwin High School senior held a 5-iron from 150 yards away with water guarding a tiny green and the Maui Interscholastic League girls team golf title in the balance.

Miyamoto smacked her approach within four feet in a championship playoff with Maui High – she lipped out her birdie putt, but her tap-in par and a chip-in from 20 yards by Kaylee Shimizu minutes later capped the Bears’ 240-244 victory.

“Before the match, I just told my girls that saying, ‘Hakuna matata, no worries, because whether we win or lose, I mean, we’re still a team and we have been through so much this year,’ ” Miyamoto said.

The Bears claimed their eighth straight MIL girls golf crown after having their record 52-match league winning streak snapped early in the season to Lahainaluna. Baldwin and Maui High finished the regular season with 13-2-1 records.

“We fought it out and it ended up working out,” said Miyamoto, who won last week’s MIL individual title by 23 strokes.

Miyamoto was 9-over par through 11 holes on Wednesday after taking a two-stroke penalty after her shot from a bunker hit her bag. She played even par to the clubhouse to finish with a team-best 79 in gusty winds.

Miyamoto and teammate Kirsten Ishikawa, who shot an 82, finished the first foursome one shot behind. Maui High’s Jasmine Cabajar shot 79 and Kristeena Locke had an 81.

That brought the drama to the final group and Shimizu appeared to be in trouble when she went out of bounds and duffed an approach shot before her chip-in finished a 79. Maui High’s Anna Apana shot 84.

“It felt really good,” Shimizu said. “I was chipping for bogey and to have a chip-in really boosted my confidence.”

The shot drew a large roar from the small gallery of parents and coaches watching the action.

“I didn’t know the (score) between Kimberlie, Kirsten, Kristeena and Jasmine,” Shimizu said. “I tried to concentrate on our match.”

Miyamoto graduates, but the rest of the Bears are juniors. All three scorers for the Sabers are sophomores. Baldwin’s non-scorer Erin Kobayashi had a 99, while Maui High senior Taylor Akamine had a 92.

“Our team isn’t as strong as it used to be because all of the teams now are equally strong,” Miyamoto said. “So it’s equally fair. We worked so hard and I’m so proud of them because we were actually tested and pulled through and fought.”

Miyamoto gave her team the comfort margin it needed on her final approach.

“I just hit a 5-iron and I just, like, prayed,” she said. “I knew that as long as I get somewhere on the green I’m OK. . . . On the green was all I was looking for.”

While the match winning streak is gone, the Bears kept their championship team streak alive.

“Experience, our girls just kept it together all the way to the end,” Baldwin coach Kenny Houpo said. “We knew we were down on the front (nine), but I told Kaylee, ‘Just keep playing, shot for shot, we still have a chance.’ “

Houpo knew that in the front group, Maui High had a three-stroke lead through 14 holes.

“At the end we got it down to one and we just had to finish with Kaylee, which was a very exciting finish for her,” Houpo said.

All eight golfers on the course Wednesday have qualified for next week’s state tournament.

“It was pretty exciting, it came down to the wire,” Sabers coach Brenda Rego said. “We came pretty close and I think next year we will give them a run again.”

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