Golf: Steady and disaster-free, Oahu’s Akana claims Big Island Amateur

  • BRAD BALLESTEROS/Tribune-Herald Blaze Akana of Oahu closed with a 1-over 73 on Sunday to pocket a five-shot victory at the Big Island Amateur at Makani Golf Club.
  • BRAD BALLESTEROS/Tribune-Herald Hilo's Dysen Park shot a 69 on Sunday and tied for fourth at the Big Island Amateur at 3-over.

PUUANAHULU — Tried and true got it done, again.

The rule of thumb for two-day golf tournaments is to go get a nice low score the first day, then, with any luck, hang on and don’t blow up the second day.

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Blaze Akana followed the script to victory Sunday in the 96th Big Island Amateur golf tournament at Makani, recording a 68 Saturday — the lowest score of the 36-hole gathering — then came back Sunday with 1-over 73 to cruise to a 5-stroke victory, a nice boost for the Kamehameha-Kapalama senior who hopes to acquire a golf scholarship to a mainland college based on this efforts in his last year in high school.

Winning this tournament can’t hurt.

“It’s really pretty good, I haven’t won for a while and I was looking for a little lift in my game,” Akana said. “I’ve gained a lot of distance in the last year, I’m bigger and I think all of that helped.

“Today, I just wanted to be steady and it seemed to work for me, I didn’t have any disasters out there.”

You could say he was alone in that regard, though it might be stretching the point just a bit, in that Akana, an Ewa Beach resident, was the only golfer in the tournament to finish under par for the two days.

He won by five strokes over Oahu’s Joshua Hayashida and Waimea’s Ken Zecchini, whose name will be engraved on the perpetual Big Island Amateur trophy for taking home resident low scoring honors.

Winners of the other flights included:

John Shaw, 152 Senior Flight (gross), Wayne Yamauchi 135 (net); Agnes Yamauchi, 143 (net flight).

Hilo’s Dysen Park recorded a 69 Sunday to earn a tie for fourth place at 147 with Kapaa’s Casey Watabu, each finishing at 3-over.

Most players found the course and their familiarity with it more conducive to better scoring Sunday but Ethan Hironaga of Hilo High School had a hiccup or two, finishing tied for 11th at 11-over when he couldn’t enough putts to fall.

“I didn’t really get enough out of it yesterday to get a good read on the greens today so that was a struggle,” he said.

Paul Ogawa of the Hawaii State Golf Association expected the greens to play faster Sunday.

“I think it was way windier yesterday,” Ogawa said, “the conditions shifted a lot, from hot in some places to windy in other places, it was hard to get a good feel for the course, but today, actually both days, the greens were cut and rolled and they looked very smooth today. Everyone seems to like the conditions, for sure.”

The winner confirmed that suspicion.

“The greens were definitely firmer and faster,” Akana said, “but the issue was the pin placements, some of them were pretty tricky, for sure. I just tried to stay safe, not to get to risky, and it worked out.”

Akana had four birdies Sunday to recover strokes lost on other holes, starting with a nice chip on the second hole that kicked his round in gear.

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“On 7, I stuck the approach to about a foot (from the hole, for another birdie), on 14 I had an 8-footer for birdie below the hole but it rolled right in and on 18 I was about 10 feet (away), but I rolled it right to left with the break and made birdie. That was my best putt of the day,” he said.

The next big tournament for Akana will be a first-ever trip to Japan in November with nine other top boys’ players from the state and six girls who will compete for Team Hawaii in the Asia Pacific Junior Cup, the 12th annual Ryder Cup style tournament.

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