The kid is clutch.
Blake Nakagawa needed a low score in the final round of the US Kids World Championships and the 7-year-old Kailua-Kona golf phenom came through in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Nakagawa nailed back-to-back birdies in the final round to finish at 2-over for the tournament at Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club, pushing him into a tie for fifth on Saturday.
The top-five finish meant that Nakagawa earned an exemption for the tournament at Pinehurst. If he had not slid up the leaderboard, he would have had to either win a local tour — which consists of eight events on Oahu — or place first or second at a regional tournament, all which are held on the mainland.
“It’s a long way from Kona but it’s Blake’s favorite for sure,” Blake’s dad Kiley Nakagawa said. “Pinehurst is a very special place for golf lovers and Blake looks forward to this one every year.
Nakagawa was competing against 108 of the best golfers his age from around the world. In all, the tournament is hosting more than 1,500 youth golfers in multiple divisions from 50 different countries.
Nakagawa shared a tip on how he stays on track during the long tournament.
“I stay focused by just worrying about the nextshot,” he said. “My dad always says ‘If you hit a bad shot, it’s ok.’ I just have to go to work and save par. I just try to never give up.”
The Big Island standout got a taste of home during the second round, when he got to play with Neal Manutai from Laie.
“I liked playing with my friend Neal,” Nakagawa said. “He’s funny and a lot of fun. He hits the ball super far.”
During his spare time, he also got to check out “The Cradle,” a nine-hole short course in the area that’s one of his favorites.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Nakagawa said. “Super hard but lots of fun.”
Nakagawa played outstanding in the tournamnet over the three days, but he’s was ready to come home.
“The tournamåents been a lot of fun, hanging out with my dad and my grandma” Nakagawa said. “Waking up, playing golf and eating is the best. But I do miss my mom, my sister and my dog.”