Suppa, Leong take titles

WAILEA – Kyle Suppa is on a roll that makes even his Punahou School teammates take notice.

The Buffanblu junior squeezed another prestigious title onto his 2014 resume Sunday at the Wailea Emerald Course, winning the 15-18 boys crown at the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association Michelle Wie Tournament of Champions.

“It feels pretty good – I think I was five down after the first two holes today,” Suppa said after shooting 3-under-par 69 for a 3-under total of 141. “Slow start, but I was hitting good shots, so I knew if I made a few putts I would start to work it out and I made some more putts on the back nine.”

Suppa was followed by Punahou teammates Colin Laszlo, a senior who shot 70 on Sunday to finish one shot back, and first-round leader Andrew Chin, a sophomore, who carded a 74, finishing at 143.

Baldwin’s Tyler Munetake (75) placed fourth at 147.

Suppa won the Hawaii State Amateur earlier this year, was low amateur at the Mid-Pacific Open and last week won the qualifier to take part in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open.

“This one is near the top, not quite at the top,” Suppa said. “The Sony is going to be the biggest tournament of my life, for sure.”

Punahou junior Aiko Leong won the girls 15-18 title, finishing at 150 after her second straight 75, one shot in front of Iolani senior Rose Huang (74). Maui High junior Jasmine Cabajar (78) was fourth at 155.

“Today I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday,” Leong said. “My driver was kind of going to the right, my irons weren’t that consistent, but my putting saved me on a lot of holes, so for the entire tournament I’m pretty pleased with how I played.”

Leong ranked Sunday’s victory in the field of season-long points-race qualifiers with her runner-up finish in the state high school tournament in May.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I think the last two years, I’ve come in second. Two years ago I lost to Rose and last year I lost in a playoff, so to win this year feels really good.”

Huang, who has signed to play at Brigham Young, said Leong was too tough.

“I just wanted to shoot a score that I’m happy with – I knew that I did badly on the first day,” Huang said. “This is not an easy course, so I just wanted to play better.

“Aiko played the same as yesterday, very consistent, never any trouble, very good putting and short game.”

Suppa played the 14th and 15th holes at 3 over, but birdied 16 and 18.

Baldwin’s Tyler Munetake (75) finished fourth at 147.

“I feel pretty solid, I hit it pretty solid, I just couldn’t make any putts,” said Munetake, the defending Maui Interscholastic League champion. “That was the story of the tournament. It’s always the putter for me.”

Munetake, who will play at Gonzaga next year, was in the final group with Chin and Suppa.

“It’s great experience,” he said. “Playing with Kyle, he’s playing in the Sony Open and that’s just ridiculous. You learn so much from them.”

Laszlo played in the group in front of Suppa.

“I really didn’t want to know or put pressure on myself,” Laszlo said. “I went out there and the number in my head was 68 today. I wanted to birdie all the (par-)5s and par everything else and that would give me my number.”

Laszlo, who has visited Michigan State and Holy Cross but has yet to sign with a college, said that the Punahou practices can be cutthroat.

“Our team is very competitive,” he said. “We don’t like losing to each other. I know these last few years, me and Kyle have been rubbing heads and it’s been fun. It really keeps me sharp.”

Huang, who has signed to play at Brigham Young, said Leong was too tough.

“I just wanted to shoot a score that I’m happy with – I knew that I did badly on the first day,” Huang said. “This is not an easy course, so I just wanted to play better.

“Aiko played the same as yesterday, very consistent, never any trouble, very good putting and short game.”

Munetake, the defending Maui Interscholastic League champion, was in the final group with Chin and Suppa, who played the 14th and 15th holes at 3 over, but birdied 16 and 18.

“It’s great experience,” said Munetake, who will be on the team at Gonzaga next year. “Playing with Kyle, he’s playing in the Sony Open and that’s just ridiculous. You learn so much from them.”

Laszlo was in the group in front of Suppa.

“I really didn’t want to know or put pressure on myself,” Laszlo said. “I went out there and the number in my head was 68 today. I wanted to birdie all the (par-)5s and par everything else and that would give me my number.”

Laszlo, who has visited Michigan State and Holy Cross, said Punahou practices can be “very competitive.”

“We don’t like losing to each other,” he said. “I know these last few years, me and Kyle have been rubbing heads and it’s been fun. It really keeps me sharp.”

The other champions were also from Oahu. Malia Nam won the girls 13-14 title, closing with a 70 for a 149 total. Jennifer Koga (76) was the girls 11-12 winner with a 157 and Shelby Keolanui (83) finished at 159 for the girls 7-10 championship. In boys competition, Evan Kawai carded a 70 for a 141 total and the 13-14 title, Taylor John McGerity shot 75 to finish at 149 and win in 11-12 and Go Nakatsukasa (73) had a 147 score to win in 7-10.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com