Munetake takes title in playoff
KAANAPALI – Baldwin High School’s Tyler Munetake and Justin Ngan led a crowd of more than a hundred people Saturday at the Kaanapali Kai Course as they teed up for a sudden-death playoff to decide the Maui Interscholastic League individual boys golf champion.
“I just tried to stay close all day because I knew it was going to come down to these last three or four holes,” Munetake said. “With this course you never know what’s going to happen.”
Munetake would par the hole and claim his first MIL title after Ngan had his par putt lip out from a couple of feet away.
For the girls, Kimberlie Miyamoto matched the tournament low with a 72 to finish off a wire-to-wire run to her first MIL title – the final margin was 23 shots.
“There’s no words to describe how I feel,” she said. “It’s pretty breathtaking.”
Munetake and teammate Ariel Elftman-Hanson trailed Ngan by two strokes at the start of the day. Ngan had led after each of the first four rounds and was grouped with his teammates Saturday.
“The first three rounds I made no putts – I mean nothing was falling,” Munetake said. “The last two rounds I played pretty solid.”
Going into the 18th hole, Munetake was still down two strokes to Ngan, but birdied the hole and forced a playoff after Ngan missed a par putt.
Munetake had four birdies and three bogeys in his final round of 69 – his lowest of the tournament. Ngan had three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey on the seventh hole.
Munetake had also faced trouble on the seventh when he nearly lost his ball off the tee.
“I pretty much topped the tee shot and scrambled to make par,” he said. “I think that was one of the holes where I look back on and think that was a big hole.”
Elftman-Hanson closed with a 73 to finish four shots out of the playoff.
Munetake said he enjoyed playing with his teammates and that they were paying close attention to their scores coming down to the final holes.
“We play with each other all the time but we constantly battle,” he said. “One day someone will win and another day someone else will win so it’s always a battle.”
Last year, Munetake found himself on the other side of a come-from-behind win when 2013 Lahainaluna graduate Malu Rosenthal beat him after trailing by five strokes.
“It hurt a little bit because I just got beat,” Munetake said. “This year, to win, it felt good.”
Ngan, a freshman, said the loss was a learning experience.
“The crowd kind of got to me,” he said.
While the boys needed another hole to decide a winner, Miyamoto never skipped a beat as she carded three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
“The past couple years I usually get anxious but this year I just told myself to have fun, it’s my last year. Whatever happens, happens.”
Miyamoto’s play was epitomized on the 16th hole when she hit her drive in a fairway bunker on the right that left her nearly 200 yards from the pin. She hit her next shot within about 15 feet of the hole.
“It was just a clean shot and I was just like, ‘OK,’ and I just rolled with it,” she said.
Maui High’s Jasmine Cabajar (76) finished second.
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com