The Manoa Cup is the most prestigious amateur golf tournament in Hawaii. This weekend is the 111th playing of the tournament and fourth for the women. Mid-Pacific graduate Danielle Ujimori took home the silver cup, but with the heat and lack of wind on Friday, the celebratory post-win pool jump might have felt even better than lifting the trophy.
It was Punahou 11th grader Karissa Kilby and University of Nevada sophomore Ujimori in the final of match play. Ujimori took a lead early and never relinquished it. Her putting the most significant factor propelling her to victory. Her round included a 40-footer and a 25-foot putt on the 14th hole to clinch the 5&4 win.
“It felt really good,’ said Ujimori after her round. “It felt great actually. I think that was my fourth or fifth big putt today that I made. So putting it in with my putting was the cherry on top for me. I was definitely playing well. I felt it in my hands especially. Everything felt really solid and I was really confident standing over the ball. It was not a matter of if I could make it or if I could keep it in play, it was a matter of where I want to put it, how I’m going to do it, what I’m going to do to execute it. So it was very solid.”
Ujimori’s role model in golf is is Michelle Wie, the best and most accomplished golfer to come out of Hawaii. Wie has been struggling with a wrist injury for a long time and broke down in tears after her first round at the KPMG PGA Championship on Thursday after shooting an 84, saying she doesn’t know how much golf she has left.
“I have been playing golf ever since I can remember walking,” said Ujimori. “(Wie) has always been the woman that I’ve looked up to in golf especially. She could play with the men, she hit it far. She was such a good golfer. I still believe she has it in her. A lot of golfers are injury-prone and it’s something they can’t necessarily help. I know she can come back from it. She can definitely putt. She can definitely hit the ball.”
Ujimori credits her coaches at Nevada for a vast improvement in her game. She has increased her driving distance, now topping out at 260 yards on the mountainous golf courses that she plays in college.
Nevada has shaped me into the golfer that I always wanted to be.”