Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai: Festivities begin with spirited Pro-Am


Pro-Am events are light-hearted contests where amateur golfers get the chance for a dream pairing with their favorite professionals. The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Pro-Am is known as one of the premier Pro-Ams in the nation and gives amateurs a chance to exchange stories, tips and tricks with the tournament’s elite golfers.

“It’s a great way to start the year,” said Brendan Moynahan, director of golf at Hualalai. “These guys are legends — the cream of the crop of golf. They take their time with the amateurs and with the crowd. They are all class acts.”

After Wednesday, three teams were tied atop the leaderboard at 53. The four-player teams were led by World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite (Phillip Myers, David Street and Dutch Stortz), reigning Senior Player of the Year Kenny Perry (Patrick Gottsch, Randy Bernard, Steve Campione) and first-time Champions Tour winner Rocco Mediate (Clay Riddell. Michael Baddely, Jim Sherlock).

All three teams shot off the first tee in the afternoon and teed off within an hour of each other.

Three-shots back of the leader was 1982 Masters Tournament Champion Craig Stadler’s team, made up of amateurs Jay Uyeda, Jamie Diboise and Beth Saunders.

“Today was fun,” Stadler said. “You get to meet some new friends and see some interesting swings — good, bad and different.”

Stadler’s teammates were all smiles as they came in from their day on their course and had nothing but good things to say about their professional counterpart.

“He was just terrific,” Diboise said. “He hit the ball solid, paid attention to what we were doing and had lots of constructive advice for us. We also just chatted, not even about golf half of the time. It really was a lot of fun.

Wednesday was not the first Pro-Am event for Diboise. He also golfed in the first Pro-Am at Hualalai.

“I think the pros have relaxed a lot and are not as worried about grinding out a good score,” Diboise said. “They pay a lot more attention to what we are doing. I think that is the notable exception I’ve seen. The pros make this a tremendous experience.”

The wind picked up as the day progressed, but it did not diminish the participant’s experience on the course.

“It is hard to have a bad day here,” Stadler said. “This course and the conditions are so nice it makes it pretty easy to put up with anything.”

The Pro-Am event wraps up today.