Na, Jimenez lead Anuenue Classic

KAPALUA – It was homecoming at the Kapalua Bay Course on Monday in the Anuenue Spring Break Classic.

Leading the way for the Maui contingent in the first round of the women’s college golf tournament was Oregon sophomore Cassy Isagawa, a former state champion for Baldwin High School.

Isagawa, a first-team Golfweek All-American last year, was 2 under par through four holes before settling for a 1-over 73, six strokes off the lead shared by Pepperdine’s Grace Na and Arizona State’s Noemi Jimenez.

“I never realized how much I missed home until I came back and I had my team here and they were

all hyped up about the beach, the whales, the turtles and I was just, like, ‘Man, I don’t get hyped up about that stuff,’ ” Isagawa said. “I never realized I took advantage of these beautiful places at home, so it is really nice to come back, play a little of golf and see my family and friends.”

Pepperdine led the team chase at 3-under 285, Washington was two strokes back and Arizona State was third at 289.

Isagawa tied for ninth in last year’s event – her 143 over the final two rounds was the best in the field.

“That would be a really special win, just to win at home,” she said. “My parents are here to watch me, so I guess it would be a real sentimental win if I do win this thing.”

Hawaii junior Liana Otake, a Maui High graduate, fired a 78 in a round she said “could have been a lot better.” She, too, was soaking up the friendly environment.

“It’s awesome, it’s like a Hawaii reunion,” Otake said. “I told my team this morning, ‘I don’t even feel like this is a tournament, this is a vacation for us.’ It’s so much fun.”

Kamehameha Maui graduate Shannon Abarra, a UH-Hilo freshman, carded an 82. Senior teammate Dayna Bersamin of Baldwin is redshirting while recovering from a shoulder injury.

“I was having a little difficult time with my swing and just my confidence level,” Abarra said. “With my coach’s help I was able to get more confidence in myself and my swing. I was hitting good today, but I just had a couple mess-up holes.”

Na, the 11th-ranked golfer in the nation by golfstat.com, had five birdies on the front side.

“It is too soon to tell, tomorrow is a brand-new day,” said Na, who withdrew from the tournament last season with an injury. “I’m going to forget about my round today and just try to do the same thing tomorrow. It’d be good to win. I have had a lot of tournaments I was in contention and finally winning would be really cool, but no one knows.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.