2015 Maui Open Concludes

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Two familiar faces, those of Captain Kirk Nelson and Mr. Dean Prince of West Maui, captured the Senior and Super-Senior Divisions of the 2015 Maui Open respectively. This was Kirk’s third time around, at least, as the popular Kihei-based Oklahoma-born space cowboy dominated his 24 fellow competitors and has, of late, become a regular thing.

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Dean, the 1978 United States Public Links Amateur champion, made minced meat of Robin Nelson’s 72-par 18-hole trek, even in spite of the gusty trade winds that have been howling over the past two weeks. Dean, 77, shot six-under-his-age and one-under-par for the final round to handily capture the 13-man Super Seniors Division, which included such luminaries as Rodney Acia (Hilo), Doug Stacey (Lahaina), and the Count, Clif Council (Pukalani).

Kirk followed up an opening round of 3-over 75 with a scintillating par-72 with a bogey on 18, something he has made a habit of in recent years. One shot behind him was another familiar face on the Hawaii pro circuit, Bradley Bowen, whose pair of 76s were good enough to earn him sole possession of second place, four back of Nelson’s 148.

In close pursuit, and just one back of Bowen, was Mark Chun at 153.

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The A-Flight is where the fun at the Maui Open has always taken place. Here, handicaps are figured into the scoring which makes for some interesting results, and 2015 would not disappoint.

Coming in first, and destroying the field, with the sheer power of arithmetic in his corner, was Glen Ruidas (shown on far-left of featured image at the top of this post), who shot a six-under-par 66 net, or a one-over-par gross score of 73, in a blistering wind, while all other golfers in all flights struggled to even get close to par, and only one—Dean Prince—legitimately besting it.

Glen’s seven handicap means he should be carding scores of about 81 on par 72 golf courses. In high winds, maybe 85 or even 89. So, to shoot a 73 in such harsh conditions, and under the pressure of a once-a-year competition, is truly remarkable, and I am sure many had choice remarks indeed.

But all kidding aside, Glen was draining putts from all over on Sunday and made five birdies with his flat stick. We all have exceptional days and Sunday was his turn. Well done Glen.

The Championship Flight was the largest field of this year’s Maui Open with 57 players. Many pros, as well as young juniors, amateurs, and even some female golfers, comprised the field.

These golfers all played the Dunes at Maui Lani from the back tees, which measure just over 6,700-yards, which is short, but Robin Nelson’s tricky design makes up for that. And, given the strong trade winds that blew on both Saturday and Sunday, it is understandable that even the eventual winner, pro Ryan Acosta of Turtle Bay, was unable to break 75, a score he shot on both days to edge amateurs Keyton Little-Mamimoto and Alex Chirarella by a shot at 150 total. Visit the Dunes at Maui Lani website for all of the results, or click here.

So strong were the winds that many well-known pros were unable to even break 90 over the two day, 36-hole competition that dates back to the 1950s, when the event was one of the main attractions of Hawaii.

But times have changed, and I suspect that the ‘Best little golf tournament in Hawaii’ will need to find new passion once again in future years as does the game as a whole.

Hopefully, something will give new life to this game of golf we hold so dear. In the meantime, the die-hards carry forth the traditions of old, and we must thank our blessings and the Dunes at Maui Lani for keeping the Maui Open alive.

John Byrne
John Byrne

Founded the Maui Golf Review in 1995.

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