Waiakea senior Andi Igawa’s golf game and mindset were resistant to the wind, and it was the same deal for Kamehameha junior Shantel Antonio, who battled tough conditions and also put up a solid score.
Igawa fired a 10-over-par 81 to beat Antonio by four strokes in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation season-opener Wednesday at Hilo Muni, where windy conditions reminded golfers of Waikoloa Village.
The weather forecast called for wind conditions of 12 mph, but it probably cranked up a lot stronger at Hilo Muni. At least it didn’t rain, until later in the day when a light drizzle made a brief appearance. But by then most of the golfers had already turned in their scorecards.
Igawa, the BIIF runner-up the last two years, had scores of 39-42 in the first group while Antonio played in the second group and posted scores of 42-43.
“It was pretty windy, kind of like Waikoloa Village,” Igawa said. “It was pretty hard to judge distance. My chips on the side of the greens put the ball nearly two to three feet. I had short putts for par. I didn’t hit many greens. I’m glad my short game was there. It saved me for the whole round.”
Igawa’s round was a model of consistency. She had one birdie, no bogeys, and two double-bogeys. The rest of the holes she made par, a golfer’s best friend when something isn’t working, like the weather.
“My goal is I think of it as hole to hole. You can’t think too far ahead,” she said. “I’m proud of our girls. They’re all pretty good for first starting out. I’m thankful we have a team this year. Everyone has fun. We’ll go out and get ice cream together. We enjoy each other’s company.”
The Waiakea girls are the 10-time BIIF defending champions. But Igawa is the only returning golfer. The door has been kicked wide open for the team title race.
Kamehameha picked up the team title with a 310 total, ahead of Hilo, 313; and Waiakea, 329.
The Vikings were led by Amanda Loeffler’s 92, the only other round under triple digits. Hilo lost Annie Sadamoto, the team’s No. 2 golfer, when she hurt her knee on the 14th hole and had to withdraw, likely costing the team a valuable score.
“The wind was like Waikoloa Village. From 150 yards out, I’d aim for the pin and the wind would carry it farther than it’s supposed to go and pull the ball off the green,” Loeffler said. “I need to get better at my short game. Hopefully, in the next round (March 29 at Hokulia) I’ll do way better. My goal is to be in the top three and win BIIFs as a team.”
Antonio knows the feeling of lost shots. She pointed out that she’s never seen the wind stronger at Hilo Muni. The wind sometimes shook her ball on the tee, and fortunately for her didn’t move it off the putting green.
“It could have been better. It wasn’t my best round,” Antonio said. “It was really windy and hard to play. The wind was like Waikoloa Village. I had three birdies and my goal is to play the best that I can.”
At least Antonio closed with a flourish. She went birdie-birdie on the par 5 17th hole and uphill par 4 18th.
Her teammate, senior Healani Kaaihili, had the worst of the wind. A couple of times on the green, her ball moved and once it rolled down the hill and added a longer shot. She went out in the first group, getting a chance to watch Igawa’s steady game.
“The wind was not my friend,” Kaaihili said. “It carried my ball right, if I aimed left. The group I played with (Igawa and Loeffler) was good and encouraging to each other. What I learned from Andi is she stays really humble.”
Kamehameha coach Bob Roman, who’s been at the school since 2004, was realistic about his team’s title.
“They’ve got to get better. They work hard enough,” he said. “We went to Waikoloa Village on Sunday and we mixed the boys and girls. It’s the first group I’ve had for soccer and golf where they encourage each other. In the past, the boys or girls would go their separate ways. We’re all one big family. It’s rare in my experience.
“But for the title, it’s going to be this way the whole season.”