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Inside Hawaii Golf - Tournament Golf

"The Pulse of Competitive Golf in the Aloha State"


Hilo Invitational Golf Tournament, 2008

Hilo Municipal Golf Course - February 22-24

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From left to right is Lance Taketa, Committee Co-Chairperson; Nick Mason, (Professional) 2008 Hilo Invitational Champion; Stephanie Kono Low Amateur & Kevin Hayashi, Committee Co-Chairperson. Photo by Lee Hardy.

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 137 (69-68).

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 thinks.

“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 holding.”

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 make.”

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.”

 

PRO-AM WINNERS 

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 Miyashiro.

 

By: Lee Hardy


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