Held recently at the Royal Kaanapali Course, the Pro-Pro Championship is a two-day, two-person better ball format with a total purse of $9,000.
The team of TJ Figueroa and Garrett Okamura carded a -11 (64-66=130) tourney, taking home the trophy and the $2,000 winners’ check.
The 2008 Kaanapali Pro-Pro Championship winners, Figueroa and Okamura were consistent from the beginning, carding three birdies on the front nine and three birdies on the back.
Their team was paired up with veterans Kevin Hayashi and Lance Taketa — the fourth place team — who put pressure on them all day.
The third hole on the Royal Kaanapali Course, a par four with large green side bunkers, was the first of Figueroa and Okamura’s birdies for the day.
“That one helped to break the ice — it was a good start,” said Figueroa. “I hit my approach to about 12 feet over the flag and had a right edge putt. It was solid; we needed that to get us started.
“Garrett would usually tee off first because he’s so consistent, and by consistent I mean he hits it 280 yards and is in the middle of the fairway.”
Okamura laughed and said, “Yah — TJ was able to then go for it. He was our bomber.”
Figueroa drove the seventh hole, an uphill par four playing from 324 yards, and landed his ball on the middle of the three-tiered green. He barely missed a 40-foot putt for eagle and had an easy tap-in putt for birdie.
On the 15th hole, an uphill par three, Taketa hit a pin-seeking shot, setting his team up for a birdie.
With only three holes left to play, both Figueroa and Okamura attacked the pin. They were both rewarded with shots six feet from the hole. Figueroa made his putt for their final birdie of the day.
Okamura commented, “Course conditions were great today; the greens were flawless.”
His partner added, “The course was accessible today because there wasn’t too much wind, but you still had to hit quality shots. You can never fall asleep out there, especially with these greens. I don’t think there’s ever a straight putt.”
Rohn Stark and John Galarita were the first team back into the clubhouse and finished tied for second with a 64-67=131 showing. With five birdies and just one bogey, they played a clean round.
Stark commented, “We both had plenty of birdie putt opportunities all day. The greens were really good — fun to play on. We just weren’t able to convert every time; had a few edges burned and lip-outs.”
“I had such a chance on 16 (and missed it), so I’m glad I followed up with a birdie on 17 and then Rohn covered us on 18 with a great up and down for par,” Galarita added.
On the 17th hole, the short par three over water, Galarita hit his nine iron from 155 yards to about eight feet and knocked it in for the bird. Unfortunately, that missed putt on 16 made them one shot short of the winners’ trophy.
The team of Eliot Gouveia and Mark Seki emerged on the leader board, carding a 65 (-6) to tie Stark and Galarita in second place.
Gouveia stated, “Mark got us started with a great par on 18 (shotgun start), and I was able to follow up with a birdie on the number one par five. I hit driver off the tee and cut the corner a bit to give myself 225 yards to the flag.”
He continued, “A solid approach shot gave me a 15-foot putt for eagle, but unfortunately, I was six inches short. I tapped in for birdie.”
PGA General Manager Ed Kageyama commented, “The Pro-Pro is a fun event for us to host every year. Golf professionals from across the state are able to spend the entire weekend at Kaanapali.
“The social events combined with championship tournament conditions allow for great camaraderie amongst the players from Hawaii.”
Tournament sponsors include Oakley, Golf Scorecards Inc., Imperial Headwear, GolfSignCo.com and the Aloha Section PGA.
For more information on Kaanapali Golf, visit www.kaanapaligolfcourses.com or call 661-3691.
TJ Figueroa goes for an eagle on the seventh green. He just missed, then tapped in for birdie.