Fourth day of the 2021 Manoa Cup saw two youngsters advance to the Women’s final. Both Nicole Tanoue and Ashley Koga are entering their junior years at ‘Iolani & Moanalua respectively. Both would like to return to campus with one of the most prestigious trophies Hawai’i golf has to offer.
Tanoue is headed to the 36-hole championship match after beating Ashley’s older sister and current Sac State golfer, Jennifer Koga, by a mark of 3&2. The ‘Iolani product started with two double bogeys and found herself two-down through two holes, but she righted the ship by the turn. The match was all-square on the short par-4 10th tee. Tanoue birdied the 10th to move to 1-UP and never trailed again.
She’d push the lead 3-UP before Jennifer would stage a mini comeback. The reigning Big Sky Player & Freshman of the Year birdied 15 to get one back then on the 16th tee hit a beautiful shot right at the pin to inside 10 feet. It looked like Koga was going to get to 1-down with two-to-play. Nicole was off the green but applied pressure with a timely clip to three feet. Koga three putts. Match over.
“That’s what I like about Match play it doesn’t really matter how bad you did in a hole because on the next hole it’s a fresh new start. It doesn’t matter how worse you did then them. You just move on and keep moving on. It’s one shot at a time,” Tanoue told KHON 2’s Alan Hoshida after the round, “You don’t have to worry about the past because it’s in the past. I think mentally I’ll be there tomorrow. I know I can pull some shots off, so I think if I keep it together, keep calm, then I should be ok.”
The Koga family disappointment would be short lived because younger sister Ashley was staging a comeback to remember. Ashley found herself down two with two to play against Roosevelt’s Chloe Jang. She had to win out just to force a playoff. The younger Koga makes par on 17 to cut the deficit to one with only the closing hole left.
Both Jang and Koga miss the green with their approaches, but Ashley is able to get up and down to win the hole, forcing a playoff hole. The short game magic continued for the Moanalua student-athlete. Ashley clipped a wedge to three feet for an easy par. It was enough to steal the match, winning the last three holes. She seemed almost surprised immediately following the finish.
“I honestly thought I really need to step up my game or I’m not going to be doing good. It’s just adrenaline. It’s in a bad way I was going to lose but in a good way this is really exciting. It’s a little disappointing that my sister didn’t make it but other than that I’m very proud of myself,” Ashley Koga explained to Hoshida.
Tanoue and Koga will go head-to-head for 36 holes starting at 7am on Friday. Winner grabs the Manoa Cup. The Open Division will also have a long day on Friday, completing both the quarterfinals and semifinals.