May 23—Hanaka Shiozumi made the most of her first trip to Hawaii.
Shiozumi earned a spot in the Jennie K. Wilson Women's Invitational with a win in Japan and converted the ticket to the islands into a victory on Sunday at Mid-Pacific Country Club.
Down a shot after 15 holes on a breezy day in Lanikai, Shiozumi took the lead with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes and carded a round of 1-over-par 73 to finish at 1 under for the tournament, two shots ahead of fellow Japanese golfers Karen Hokazono and Yui Nakamichi.
"(I had ) only three holes and tried to keep a strong mind and keep going, " Shiozumi said through an interpreter.
Shiozumi, a 20-year-old from Fukuoka, hadn't played outside of Japan before winning the Koai Cup, which included a spot in the field for the 71st Jennie K. She became the fourth Japanese golfer to win one of Hawaii's most prestigious women's events in the last nine years (not counting the 2020 cancellation ) and the first since Natsumi Nakanishi's back-to-back titles in 2017 and'18.
Shiozumi opened with a 70 on Friday and held steady on Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round. She pointed to her iron play as the key element of her game over the weekend, and her approach shots on No. 16 and 17 proved pivotal in her victory.
Shiozumi began the day at 2 under, one shot ahead of Hokazono, Roosevelt junior Chloe Jang and HHSAA champion Raya Nakao of Punahou.
Shiozumi played her front nine at 2 over and Nakamichi, who was three shots out of the lead to start the round, moved ahead with at 1 under with a birdie at No. 12.
Nakamichi bogeyed two of her next three holes and Hokazono took a turn in the lead with a birdie at No. 16.
Shiozumi had slipped to 1 over with a bogey on No. 13 but matched Hokazono's birdie at 16 by dropping a close to 10-foot putt to remain one shot behind.
Shiozumi hit her approach on No. 17 inside of 5 feet to set up a second straight birdie and reclaimed the solo lead when Hokazono bogeyed.
"(I ) guessed maybe I'm No. 1 and tried to keep going, " Shiozumi said.
Shiozumi's two-putt par from the back fringe of the 18th green was enough to close out the win on a challenging day on the course.
Nakamichi posted the low round of the day at even-par 72 and tied Hokazono for second. Kalani junior Teal Matsueda was next at 5 over 221 after a round of 75.
The tournament's division winners included Young Hwa Kim (A Flight ), Mira Han (B Flight ), Sandy Miyamoto (C Flight ), Susan Awaya (D Flight ) and Kristina Li (E Flight ).