Garrett Okamura Overnight Maui Open Leader

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Local knowledge certainly helps at The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course, and no one knows that better than the linksland course’s head Aloha Section PGA golf professional, Garrett Okamura, whose 3-under-par 69 today was the only sub-par round scored from the back tees.

In the last group of the entire event, Okamura was paired up with Kaanapali’s David Havens and amateur Latham Wade, teeing off in the midst of the afternoon’s strongest winds at 1:18 pm. Ironically, the top three players on today’s leaderboard all teed off around one o’clock, when the brunt of the difficult course’s gales were blowing.

Okamura’s round turned around on the back nine after the young pro made the turn over par. A birdie barrage ensued and instead of gagging like so many seem to do these days on Tour, Okamura birdied out with my own camera bearing down on him on holes 17 and 18, like there was nothing to it!

One of my favorite golfers and a Hawaii legend, Kevin Hayashi, who this week is joined by his Hilo entourage led by Lance Taketa, is tied with Elleair Maui G.C. teaching pro, David Braxton, in the Seniors Division.

The early birds today were the six pairings representing the Super Senior Division. In great form was another chum of mine, Maui Golf Shop co-owner Clif Council, whose stellar 74 had to bring a smile to his Irish face, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He id come up a bit short, however, as the Super Seniors Division is currently led by amateur golfer, Ed Beslow, who shot a stunning even-par 72 this morning.

The Maui Open was created by amateurs for amateurs, and in keeping with tradition an A-Flight Division gives local weekend warriors the chance to taste victory, with net scores based on handicaps there to level the field.

One golfer who has always managed to find himself at the top of this Division is none other than the affable David Balmores, who I have personally seen hunting along the coral reefs of this Division for, what seems like almost three decades! How he does it I will never know, but David carded a net 66 today, two ahead of Juan Aquino and Thomas Saka.

In spite of the fact that there are quite a few fine players in the A-Flight, like my good friend Jimmy Nagamine and former champion Rick Colletto, I must welcome a world-traveler to the field this weekend: a certain USC freshman by the name of Ms. Victoria Morgan.

A collector of some 150 toy soldiers accumulated while visiting seven continents over the span of her long life, the brave Poly High alumn (Long Beach, CA) flew over and joined the field of bandits and played remarkably well carding a respectable net 76. Considering this young lady golfer was captain and MVP of her former high school’s varsity men’s golf team last year, I will her fellow competitors well as I suspect she will be out there administering a thrashing to any quacking sandbaggers who may be wavering at in confidence.

Tomorrow proves to be an eventful conclusion to the Maui Open, as always. Garrett has been around the top of the leaderboard every year since he took over the professional reigns from Dunes’ GM, Dave Gleason, so it is likely the fine young man will come through.

But I suspect he will have his inner demons tugging away at his intestinal fortitude, and there are a hungry pack of wolves near to him just waiting to pounce. He will be a great champion if he can stay the course.

Dean Prince is just to solid, inasmuch as I love Clif, and am impressed by Ed Beslow, the odds are with the master from Kapalua. And then there is my old friend and pro, Ed Angulo, who made me proud with his 77 today. He, and another great amateur who I know has been knocking at a variety of championship doors for years, Doug Stacy, are both in the hunt just five back in the Super Senior’s Division.

Eleven players represent a small log jam in the Senior Division with 10 trailing behind the Kihei-based pro, David Braxton. Of them, I must confess I am partial towards Kevin Hayashi and my dear old pal, Captain Kirk Nelson, who just returned from playing in the U.S. Senior Open at the Omaha Country Club, in Omaha, NE. These two can come from 120 behind to win, and in Hawaii golf hall of famer Kevin’s case, I’m sure he’s one it more than once.

I wonder aloud if my idol and friend, retired Maui News sports editor Wayne Tanaka, is following the festivities? He’d guess it right. We shall all know quite soon….

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