KEALAKEKUA – Kyle Suppa didn’t seem to have any problem with the heat that bothered many of the golfers in the King Auto Group State Junior Championship tournament at The Club at Hokulia on Tuesday.
The Honolulu teen was cool to the tune of a 2-under 70 that gave him the lead after the first round of the two-day tournament. He had five birdies in the round.
“I thought it was pretty good,” Suppa said. “I hit some pretty good iron shots, made a couple of putts — I had a couple that lipped out — and had one bad tee shot into the hazard on 17. Other than that, it was pretty good.”
Suppa holds a three-shot lead over Tyler Munetake of Wailuku, Maui. There is a four-way tie for third place, with Shawn Lu, Keegan Loo, Zackary Kaneshiro and Kyosuke Kevin Hara each carding a 2-over 74.
“It was up and down all day,” Munetake said. “I made a lot of bogies, but then had a lot of birdies, too, so it just balanced out.”
The shotgun start put Suppa on No. 4 and he started heating up on the back nine. He birdied Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 16.
He’ll look to build on his strong start when the tournament resumes Wednesday, and said that will depend on his putting.
“I think just try to make more putts than I did today,” he said of what he needs to do in the second round. “I hit good putts, but I missed a couple that I could have made.”
Shon Katahira of Hilo was the top Big Island golfer in the age group. He shot a 6-over 78.
“I had a little tough time on the greens, but my ball-striking was pretty good,” Katahira said. “In all, I thought I played better than the score.”
Katahira has played the course before, including the Big Island Interscholastic Federation tournament. He’s confident he can play well on Wednesday.
“I’ve got to putt better,” he said. “If I putt better, I can go low.”
Hilo had two other golfers in the age group in Preston-Lee Ching (84) and Trevor Hirata (87).
Rose Huang has a one-stroke lead in the girls’ 15-18 group after shooting a 1-under 71 — the second-lowest score of the day in any age group.
“I had a lot of birdies,” said Huang, who is from Honolulu. “I had five, but then I had four bogies. A lot of them were dumb mistakes like mis-clubbing or aiming at the wrong place. Overall, it was better than I expected. I was pretty unsure about my swing before the round and just wasn’t feeling all that great.”
Allisen Corpuz of Honolulu is second after shooting an even-par 72.
Hilo’s Andi Igawa is tied for eighth after shooting 78.
Ray Kim of Honolulu leads Evan Kawai of Honolulu by a stroke in the boys’ 13-14 category after shooting 75. Hilo’s Pono Yanagi is tied for fourth after shooting 11 over.
Malia Nam of Kailua, Oahu, shot 74 for a six-stroke lead in the girls’ 13-14 flight. Hilo’s Kaelyn Uchida carded a 91 while Kaley Ann Saludares withdrew from the tournament.
The round also served as a qualifier for the Big ‘I’ national championship tournament to be held Aug. 5-8 in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Loo of Lihue, Kauai, and Colin Laszlo of Waipahu, Oahu, accepted bids for the boys’ 13-18 division while Kristen Le of Honolulu will play in the girls’ event for the second consecutive year.