In two weeks 2018 Punahou grad, Evan Kawai, will realized a childhood dream when he tees it up on the PGA tour for the 2021 Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. Kawai qualified for his hometown tournament by winning the amateur qualifier in November. He did it in style, birding the 4th playoff hole to earn his chance to play with the best in the world.
“Oh man, it’s still hasn’t registered in my brain. It is a big deal. It’s every junior golfers dream to represent their hometown in their hometown in a professional level,” Kawai told KHON2 sports reporter, Alan Hoshida, “I’m going to make sure my game is in shape so that I can show everybody that Hawaii guys can play golf too on tour.”
The transition from outside the ropes to inside the ropes can be a daunting task. Young players like Kawai are suddenly swinging side-by-side with their idols. He says he can’t wait to watch all the pros on the range to see how they approach tournament golf, hoping to pick up aspects to add to his game and routine. Most of all, He plans to embrace the experience.
“I texted my coach back from college. His name is Chris Riley. He played in tour a lot, played in the Ryder cup. He kind of just told me that these guys out here are so good you won’t have time to be nervous. Just have fun. I think that is something that will stick in my head. I’m just going to go out there and tell myself to have fun. At the end of the day it’s a good experience and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. Especially, from playing along side the best in the world”
The 2015 high school state champion & current University of San Diego golfer knows nerves will come into play when he steps to the 1st tee, but in an odd way, believes not having fans on the course will be beneficiary.
“Not quite sure how I will feel on the first tee. I’m kind of going into this with no expectations. I’m just going to take it hole by hole, shot by shot. I think not having spectators around will decrease the amount of anxiety. I’ve played in a lot of high pressure situations. I’ve trained really hard to be here. It’s been pretty amazing to see that there are a lot of people following this. Just to feel the support from everybody will be something that will motivate me going into this tournament. I just want to make everyone proud.”