Baldwin grad Shimizu wins Anuenue Classic

Kaylee Shimizu hits a shot during the final round of the Anuenue Spring Break Classic at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course on Saturday. -- UH MEDIA RELATIONS photo

Kaylee Shimizu is glad she didn’t know exactly where she stood until she had hit her drive on the final hole of the Anuenue Spring Break Classic.

Shimizu, a Utah Valley University junior and Baldwin High School graduate, won for the first time in her four-year college career on Saturday at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course by a single stroke over Oklahoma State’s Han-Hsuan Yu.

“It feels amazing, the feeling is kind of indescribable, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without my team, my family and, of course, our coaches,” Shimizu said. “I’m very grateful for this win.”

Shimizu fired a 2-over-par 74 on Saturday to finish at even-par 216, winning just the third individual title in UVU women’s golf history. Yu, playing in the final group with Shimizu, shot 70. Oklahoma State’s Michelle Forsland (73) and Lianna Bailey (76) tied for third at 222.

Oklahoma State won the team title at 21-over 885, 26 strokes in front of Arkansas State. Host Hawaii was third at 920 and Utah Valley was fourth at 924.

Kaylee Shimizu of Utah Valley University poses with her trophy after winning the Anuenue Spring Break Classic on Saturday. -- UH MEDIA RELATIONS photo

Shimizu was told by UVU coach Dr. Sue Nyhus that she was two shots ahead of Yu after both hit the fairway on the 474-yard, par-5 18th — Shimizu clinched the win with a par. Shimizu’s lead was four shots until she bogeyed and Yu birdied the 16th.

“I was definitely nervous from the start, especially coming into today’s round,” Shimizu said — she entered the final round with a four-shot lead. “I knew that it was a very important round for me, so not knowing the score throughout the round was probably best for me.”

Shimizu and Yu rode together in the same golf cart in the final group all day Saturday.

“I didn’t know until the last hole. After my tee shot, then my coach told me where I sat at,” Shimizu said. “Yes, I was glad I didn’t know most of the day. I definitely felt some pressure. I felt relieved when I heard that two-stroke lead coming to the last hole. It was still a battle out there.”

Her father Wes Shimizu and sisters Payten, 14, and Tayler, 25, were in the gallery all week long.

Kaylee Shimizu putts during the final round of the Anuenue Spring Break Classic on Saturday. -- UH MEDIA RELATIONS photo

“They just came up to me and told me they were very proud of me for sticking it out and congratulations,” Kaylee Shimizu said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Shimizu’s best career finish before Saturday was eighth, at the Grand Canyon Women’s Spring Invitational last month.

She was 11th in the Western Athletic Conference tournament last year and said her team can ride the momentum of a fourth-place finish on the Big Island into their conference tournament next month.

“It’s an exciting feeling,” Shimizu said of her win and the team finish. “It definitely makes me feel like our school can compete with just about anybody else. I don’t think that when we’re on the golf course it matters what your school’s ranked in the nation. I think that everybody’s on an even playing field — everybody out here are great golfers.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com