KOHALA COAST — Watching Lacey Uchida play against the BIIF field is like watching an elite gamer use a cheat code to play against a noob. It just seems unfair and maybe a bit savage.
Perhaps the Waiakea sophomore should be forced to play with only half the clubs in her bag, or maybe with one hand tied behind her back, because nothing on the course and no one in the field could slow her down through two rounds of league championship play.
Uchida jumped out to an eight-stroke advantage on the field Sunday after playing Hualalai nearly perfectly despite windy conditions. That is no easy task, just ask any PGA Tour Champions professional who comes to play Hualalai in January.
Playing the course in calm conditions is one thing, but playing with wind, the course becomes a monster. However, it didn’t matter to Uchida, who had no problem taming it with an even-par, 72.
She didn’t take her foot off the gas on Day 2 either.
Despite somehow still feeling nervous before the start of the second round, which can only be contributed to her youth and can have absolutely nothing do to with her game right now, Uchida dominated from start to finish, carding another even-par to finish 16 strokes ahead of the next best player.
She was the only player, boy or girl, to shoot par in both championship rounds.
“Lacey wanted it and she took it,” said Waiakea head coach Bobby Perreira. “She is very consistent, she is very hungry and she wants to win. She has that desire to put in the work and it showed, not only on Sunday, but today.”
Last season Uchida tied for first after 36 holes but then lost in a playoff. It was a learning experience.
“Last year really pushed me to work harder, get stronger, and also work on my mental game,” Uchida said. “This win means a lot and it shows all the hard work paid off. I couldn’t have done it without my team and coach though.”
Uchida also thanked her personal swing coach, Troy Tamiya. Tamiya has worked with her for the past 10 years.
On the course, putting seemed to be the biggest difference between Uchida and the field.
“It was really saving me and I had a lot of lucky putts,” said a modest Uchida. “On hole 12 today, I made a putt for birdie and that is what really got me going.”
As for the nerves, Uchida said she was helped by playing with her teammates Kailey Oki and Tori Hironaga in the final grouping.
“They kept me really relaxed,” she said. “We had a lot of fun.”
Uchida stayed dominant throughout the season despite only playing in three meaningful matches before the BIIF tournament, winning all three. She did not card a score in other tournaments so her teammates could also qualify for the league championship. Waiakea had eight players qualify.
“She has been right around par in every match and she has played all the harder courses too,” Perreira said. “She is a dedicated player and really stepped up her game.”
Oki placed second with a two-day score of 160. Waiakea’s Elle Otani had the second best round of the day with a 5-over 77. Sitting ninth after Day 1, Otani was the final player to make the cut. On Day 2, she jumped up the leaderboard to finish third overall with a two-day score of 163.
Uchida will now prepare for the HHSAA state tournament, which will be held at Waikoloa Kings Course on May 7-8.
“It is one of our home courses and we are really excited,” she said. “We have lots of opportunities to practice there so I am glad it is there and not somewhere like a private club.”