An LPGA player once again, Oahu’s Stephanie Kono reflects on whirlwind year


Hawaii Kai’s Stephanie Kono is one of the best golfers to come out of the islands. She was a three time All-American at UCLA but until this year, her professional career had been rocky.

On a windy Oahu afternoon The First Tee of Hawaii took over Bayview golf course.

With a special guest.

Punahou grad and freshly minted LPGA golfer Stephanie Kono is making her annual visit home. In November she regained her tour card. She first had full LPGA status in 2012, but lost it when she struggled to find success. 

“Golf is just never consistent,” stated Kono. There’s so many ups and downs. It keeps you humble. So I think it’s just made me appreciate the good” moments. I’ve come to realize that the bad ones don’t last. So it’s been a roller coaster but I really wouldn’t have traded any of it.”

Back injuries have bothered her for several years. Possibly the worst flare up was this March when she had to withdraw from a Symetra Tour event.

“My back just spasmed and I could barely walk,” Kono remembered. “I could barely even get onto the bed by myself. I couldn’t do anything. So that was a pretty scary day.”

But just four months later the former Hawaii high school state champ won her first pro tournament.

“Just to be able to play and be healthy and to be able to win was an incredible feeling,” Kono said.

Consistent ball striking this season was the key to playing with the best in the world when 2019 rolls around.

“I’m just going to go in there and have some fun and not just put a lot of pressure on myself like I have in the past,” Kono said.

Kono lives in Jupiter, Florida, the golf Mecca where many pros live including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Keopka, and Stephanie’s good friend Michelle Wie.

“Jupiter’s pretty fun, I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of golfers. We have a lot of fun together on and off the golf course. So I’m having a blast. Michelle lives there. A lot of my close friends live there. So it’s a lot of fun. And the weather is usually pretty good.”

One of Kono’s most anticipated LPGA stops next year: the Lotte Championship here in Hawaii on April 17-20.

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