Kevin Carll Wins!
from left to right is
Lance Taketa, co-chairperson, Pono Calip, Kevin Carll, and Kevin
Turtle Bay Resort’s Head Golf
Professional Kevin Carll, 31, lit it up with a 6-under 65 in the
final round to win the Hilo Invitational by one stroke over 16
year old Pono Calip and professional Joe Phengsavath.
Carll opened with an
even par 71 in the first round, but finished shooting 34-31
despite a 3-putt bogey on the final hole. Calip (67-70), along
with professional Jerry Mullen (67-71) were the first round
co-leaders. Professional Joe Phengsavath (68-69) tied for second
overall with Calip, this year’s low amateur.
In an event that has
been taken over by amateurs in the past three years, Calip
almost denied the professionals a victory this year. It was in
the final stretch of holes that sealed the victory for Carll—despite
his hiccup on the last hole.
“I knew I might be getting close to
the lead as I played the back nine. I was hitting the driver
good and putting well too”, Carll said. His round included an
eagle, six birdies, and two bogeys—both of them 3-putts. Even
with those missed par putts, “I was still putting well.”
“When I got to 18 (the
final hole of the tournament), I got a little greedy on the
birdie putt and ended up making bogey. I thought at that point
it cost me the tournament”, he said. “I was very disappointed
for about a good thirty minutes after the round.” So when
professional “Joe P.” went to Carll to tell him he had won, all
the 2007 champion could say was “what a relief.”
And being a modified
shotgun start, there is no definite was to know where you stand
after your round—since the leaders would take almost another 45
minutes finish up.
Just about the time
Carll was recording his bogey on the final hole, Calip was
feeling the pressure of playing the final holes of championship
golf. “I struggled with my golf swing today”, admits Calip. “I
hit a lot of poor tee shots…I hit a lot of greens somehow. It
was my putter that kept saving me.”
Going into the par
three16th, Calip was bogey free for the day. With birdies on 4,
5, and 14, he stood on the tee at 7-under par with three holes
to play. “I hit it to the back of the green, and had about 30
feet.” After leaving his first putt 8 feet short, the
Kamehameha-Hawaii junior could not convert and dropped a stroke.
After a not-so routine
par on the following hole, Calip found himself with a 150-yard
approach shot into the final hole. “I thought if I make par that
might win the tournament.”
The steady iron play
of the past two days vanished as he pushed out an 8-iron and
with that came an unexpected wake up call. “I aimed a little
right of the pin and it just went right…probably one of the few
I missed right all day”, said Calip.
After chipping to
about 15 feet, Calip found out really fast what it is like to
have people watching you, and how much focus is needed to
perform under the gun. “With the crowd around the green, I could
feel how nervous I was” he said.
And as the golf course
did to Carll minutes ago, it again delivered—this time an
untimely bogey to Calip. “I just put a bad stroke on that putt.”
But the experience he
gains from this has already set him in the right direction, and
he readily states it. “It feels good to win the low-am honors.
But in my eyes, I feel I lost the tournament. It just is
disappointing ending like that.”
However, there are
positives this young man can take from what he just went
through. This IS his first amateur crown in a big event. It is
also the first time he has ever finished under par, and it has
to be sweeter having it happen in a tournament.
“This gives me
confidence to enter more tournaments”, said Calip.
As Kevin Carll and
Pono Calip accepted their crystal trophies, Carll also shared a
little about how much it means to be in Hilo. “It is so relaxing
to come over here. It is always a joy because of the old faces I
get to see again. I’ve been playing this event 4 or 5 times now,
and I’ve met wonderful people in the pro-am and in the
“It is such a fun
tournament, I think I laughed more in the last two days than I
did in over four months. And it helps me get into a relaxed mind
set, it spills over from the pro-am to the tournament rounds”,
“Plus I grew up
playing golf at a municipal course, so it is more special to be
in Hilo—all the people, the clubhouse being right here—this is
how I learned.”
Since he loves to see
the Hilo Invitational on the schedule, I guess he cannot wait to
return next year.
Kevin Carll will
receive five thousand dollars of the fifteen thousand dollar
purse for his first place victory. Amateurs will receive gift
certificates of their choice from KTA Superstores, Hilo Muni
proshop, or Sears. There was also a senior division for those
players over 50 years old. They were allowed to “double-dip” in
both purses, with Leland Lindsay taking first place and five
HOLE IN ONE
We also had a hole in
one today. Professional Ross Mitsutani, of Keolu Golf Course,
aced the 13th hole with a 6 iron. The distance today
was 187 yards. This was Mitsutani’s first hole in one.
Witnessing his ace were professionals Herman Manalili, Mits
Nakamoto, and former Big Island amateur champion Doug Oki.
Sorry Ross, no car
for you—Rich Beem took our last one.
year, the Hilo Invitational Pro Am and Golf Tournament donated
four thousand dollars to two recipients—East Hawaii Special
Olympics and the Big Island Junior Golf Association. Both
recipients received two thousand dollars. The Hilo Invitational
has raised and donated over twenty five thousand dollars to
various charity organizations over the past ten years. Final full field scores now
Story by Lee Hardy