Professional Nick Mason captured the
11th Hilo Invitational Pro-Am and Golf Tournament
today with an impressive 63-68 (131) total and a ton of birdies.
Mason bolted out of the gate on Sunday and birdied five of the
first six holes with a red hot putter.
Mason’s eagle-birdie finish capped off
a brilliant display of putting and a six-stroke victory over
fellow professional Jacob Low, who finished alone in second at
Stephanie Kono took low amateur honors
after shooting an even-par 71 to finish at 3-under par and third
place overall. Kono opened with a 68 on Saturday.
Professionals Kevin Hayashi and Kevin
Shimomura ended up tied for fourth place at 142.
During the last two days, Mason made
17 birdies and 2 eagles—and he attributes his success to how he
“My comfort level at (Hilo) Muni makes
me feel like I can birdie every hole. That kind of mind set
takes all the stress away”, he said. “Especially when you enter
a golf tournament and everybody wants to have you here”…“and the
tournament treats everybody so well, having a comfort level like
that is a huge advantage.”
“Plus it’s special here in Hilo—this
tournament is the first I ever won as an amateur—and that’s a
good feeling, it ties in to my comfort level.”
But the Scottsdale, Arizona resident
knows all too well how tough it is to follow up a great round
like the 63 he had on Saturday.
“My main focus in the final round was
to stick to being aggressive and after the first few holes,
everything was going okay—but I ran into a rough patch in the
middle” said Mason.
“I got very conservative with my play
and you just cannot do that”.
The turning point in the final round
came on the par-three 13th hole. After making bogey
on the reachable par-five 12th, Mason hit a 5-iron on
the next hole to 15 feet and made the putt.
“I found that I wasn’t playing as
aggressive as I was earlier in the round.”
But the golf course was also playing
very differently, as the normal pace of the greens gave way to
faster speeds day by day.
“This was a different golf course. I
had to hit more bump shots around the greens—and not flops”, he
said. “In fact, wedges that you landed on some greens were not
Kono, on the other hand, cannot
remember how the golf course is supposed to play, since this was
only her second time out here.
“I played here before but it was like
8 years ago”, she said.
Kono’s start to her final round was
not what she expected either, bogeying the first two holes
before making birdies on three of the next six holes.
“It took a while for me to find my
rhythm, so I just tried to stay patient”, Kono said.
Paired with Hayashi and Mason, Kono
also tried to stick to her game plan—which was very simple. “I
tried to start out playing my own game. I didn’t think about
what they were doing, especially since those guys can hit the
ball so far.”
Kono was also happy to share what she
had learned from watching Hayashi and Mason play and how it can
help her get better as a golfer.
“I really found out how much more I
need to work on shots around the green—Uncle Kevin told me how I
need to get more creative and hit different type shots.”
“And this is the first time I met
Nick, and I was impressed as to how many birdies someone can
Mason pocketed five thousand dollars
as well as a crystal trophy while Kono received a gift
certificate of $750.00 along with a crystal trophy of her own.
The tournament committee is also very
grateful to the grounds crew of the Hilo Municipal Golf Course.
After receiving over 50 inches of rain a few weeks ago, they
worked hard to get the flood damaged areas of the golf course
ready for this year’s championship.
In fact, it was Nick Mason who told me
during his practice round on Thursday, that “I’ve played college
golf here for 4 years. I have never seen the course, especially
the greens in such great shape.”
Nick Mason’s 8-under (63) on Saturday helped propelled his
pro-am team KTA Superstores #1 to victory. Members of the
winning team include Elaine Shikuma, Jere Usui, and Dwayne