Golf: Waiakea junior steady in Manoa Cup debut; all four Big Islanders qualify

  • Photo by Aric BeckerAiden Oki.

Aidan Oki was a Manoa Cup rookie in status only Monday.

The Waiakea junior approached the 110th edition of Hawaii’s oldest golf tournament with a veteran’s mindset, executed his game plan, and even left Oahu Country Club with a bit of constructive self-criticism that any pro could appreciate.

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Oki entered the state amateur match play championship as the least accomplished of the Hilo contingent, but he was the most consistent in qualifying, balancing two birdies and four bogeys in carding a 2-over 73 in Honolulu.

“My goal today was to minimize my errors and keep my ball in play,” Oki said. “Playing conservative was the idea.”

He pushed through to the round of 64 along with rest of the Big Islanders in the field: Isaiah Kanno (74), Preston Ching (75) and Trevor Hirata (76). UH-Hilo alum Isaac Jaffurs (75), a former Manoa Cup runner-up, advanced as well amid favorable conditions.

“The course was playing pretty fair and the sun was out almost all day,” Oki said. “There was little wind as well.”

Oki birdied two of the first five holes, both par 4s, made the turn at even-par and then bogeyed a pair of par 3 holes to grab the 28th seed in match play. His conservative approach paid off on the course’s four par-5 holes, each of which he parred.

Not that he didn’t feel he left a few strokes on the course.

Asked about his biggest takeaway after his first round of Manoa Cup play, Oki, said, “Probably on the back nine, I missed some birdie opportunities that would have helped out.”

He’ll face Thayne Costa (74) of Ewa Beach, Oahu, at 8:22 a.m. Tuesday in the opening round of match play.

Kanno, the 2017 BIIF champion and a Waiakea junior, was at even par until he bogeyed No. 17 and took a double-bogey on 18, and he will be the 40th seed when he takes on Honolulu’s Kolbe Irei (72) at 7:10 a.m. Tuesday.

Ching, a Kamehameha graduate who just finished his sophomore season at UH-Hilo, draws Honolulu’s Tyler Isono (71) in the morning, while Hirata, a three-time BIIF champ at Waiakea now playing for UH-Manoa, draws Kauai’s Keegan Loo (69), the 10th seed.

Ching made one birdie en route to the No. 45 seed. Hirata was in line for higher seed until he made triple bogey on No. 18.

Jaffurs, set to face Oahu’s Noah Koshi on Tuesday morning, was 5-over on the front nine but made three birdies on the back.

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Defending champion Andy Okita of Mililani, Oahu, drew a bye into match play, and a pair of Oahu golfers, Brandan Kop and Tyler Ota, led qualifying with 66s.

The tournament runs through Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole final.