Miyamoto extends lead to 17 strokes

WAILEA – On the girls side of the Maui Interscholastic League individual golf tournament, Baldwin High School senior Kimberlie Miyamoto is running away from the young field behind her.

In the boys tournament, Baldwin freshman Justin Ngan leads senior teammate Ariel Elftman-Hanson by three strokes.

Miyamoto’s 78 was Saturday’s best girls score at the wind-blown Wailea Old Blue Course in the third round of the 90-hole event, and it left her 17 strokes in front with a 230 total.

Ngan and Elftman-Hanson tied for the best boys score at 76, leaving Ngan at 219 and Elftman-Hanson at 222.

Swirling gusts surpassed 40 mph.

“It was very tough,” said Miyamoto, who began the day with a one-shot lead. “I want to say the wind was a huge factor today because it was just blowing all over the place.”

Miyamoto said it was hard to get comfortable at any point Saturday.

“Once you approached a shot, you would hear this big gust of wind and then you want to back off and kind of reset yourself,” she said. “Today was a hard day. For me to shoot 78 today was pretty remarkable.”

Maui High sophomore Jasmine Cabajar was in second place after an 84.

“She is a senior, she is more experienced and she has a really great golf game,” Cabajar said of Miyamoto. “She is just really steady.”

There are nine slots for the MIL in next month’s state girls tournament, and four will go to the team champion – Baldwin and Maui High are tied with two matches to go, and a playoff, if necessary, is tentatively set for April 23.

The other five state berths will go to the top finishers in the league tournament who are not among the championship team’s qualifiers.

“That definitely makes things interesting,” Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto is trying to join former Baldwin teammates Cassy Isagawa and Marissa Uradomo as an MIL individual champion. Both are now playing NCAA Division I golf.

“It’s actually one of my goals this season,” said Miyamoto, who is looking at several D-I schools where she would continue to play. “No matter what the outcome is, this year has just been the best year and I have to thank my team and my coaches because they have done so much for me this year. I honestly think this year is the best year for us.”

Baldwin, which won the MIL boys team championship, claiming five of the league’s 14 state berths, will have the top four spots in the individual tournament going into Fri-day’s fourth round at Pukalani Country Club. Play finishes next Saturday at the Kaanapali Kai Course.

Ngan was just happy to survive the conditions.

“It was pretty windy today,” he said. “I had a hard time, but I did OK.”

The pressure appears to be building for Ngan, who has been on top since his opening-round 68 at Waiehu Municipal Golf Course.

“Oh yeah, that has come into my mind,” he said. “I try not to let it bother me that much. It helps us a lot to know that we are in the state tournament.”

Miyamoto has been advising Ngan on how to handle things.

“She helps me, just to calm down, stay focused, don’t worry about what you are shooting,” he said.

Elftman-Hanson, who has top-four finishes in the MIL tournament each of the last two seasons, had three birdies to go with seven bogeys Saturday.

“It was tough, but I hung in there, grinded it out, came out with 4 over,” he said. “It was brutal, you had to really commit to every shot.”

Elftman-Hanson will play at Utah Valley University next year, and wants to take an MIL title with him.

“I mean, all of us want to win it,” he said. “I have got to play my own game. I have no control over what (Ngan) does. I just have to go out and do what I do, try and play some golf. If I come out on top, I come out on top. I just have got to give it all I’ve got.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com