Today, the 109th Manoa Cup final featured 17 birdies over the course of 32 holes of match play, with Mililani's Andy Okita accounting for 11 of them. That performance was enough to edge out 17-year-old soon to be Punahou senior, Evan Kawai, for the champions dip in the Oahu Country Club Pool.
It was a cool finish to a long day of tough match play. The Hanalani grad, Okita, started well and never slowed down. After controlling the first round of match play, Okita headed into round two up two strokes on Kawai. But, the Buffanblu senior stayed hot on his heels.
"I mean it's just a grind," said Okita. "I just wanted to get up early and stay one or two up. Just try to keep it like that for the rest of the round. But he came back he made a lot of good putts, a lot of good shots."
On the par five sixth hole of round two, Kawai got the flat stick working - birdieing to bring him within one stroke of Okita.
But the former Royal responded with 3 birdies over the next four holes. Okita went on to build on that momentum. With Kawai bogeying on the par four 12th - he went up 5 strokes. A birdie on the 14th, and the Manoa Cup belonged to Okita, ending the final round of the tournament after 32 holes.
"He was unreal today," said Kawai. "I think one day my time will come. I'm not ready for it yet. But, I learned a lot this week. Especially from watching Andy, and they way he played today. It was a good match."
"I was just trying to take it one stroke at a time. Not trying to get ahead of myself," Okita said after his win. "I didn't think I'd come this far, honestly. But, it feels good."
While Okita may have earned the cup, Kawai didn't walk away completely empty handed. After carrying his own clubs and walking the entire course for both of today's rounds he earned new nickname, "Iron Man Evan". According to Kawai, he plans on celebrating his runner-up finish with a trip to Taco Bell, to replace the calories he burned during Saturday's final round.
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