Rosenthal, Locke capture MIL golf crowns

KAANAPALI – Lahainaluna High School senior Malu Rosenthal dreamed about winning the Maui Interscholastic League boys golf title Friday night.

On Saturday, he fired “the round of my life” to do precisely that at the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course.

Rosenthal chipped in for par from 40 feet on the 18th – his second no-putt hole of the day, the first coming for birdie on No. 10 – to fire a 4-under-par 67 for a one-shot, come-from-behind win over Baldwin sophomore Tyler Munetake, who had a 73.

“Two chip-ins,” said Rosenthal, who has signed with Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore. “When that happened (on 10), I felt pretty good about it. I just had to play conservative and make pars and make (Munetake) beat me with birdies.”

Maui High freshman Kristeena Locke won the girls title with a 78 on Saturday to finish six strokes in front of defending champion Marissa Uradomo, a Baldwin senior headed to Indiana State on a golf scholarship. Uradomo fired a 73 Saturday.

Rosenthal was eight strokes behind when he was practicing Thursday and struggling with his driver. He asked Lahainaluna athletic director Scott Soldwisch for help and Friday at Pukalani Country Club, he closed the gap to five strokes going into Saturday’s fifth and final round.

Playing in the same group, Rosenthal and Munetake were tied going to the 18th, a tough 440-yard par-4.

On the final hole, Rosenthal flew the green with a pitching wedge, hit his third shot off the green and chipped in for par and the win, while Munetake was lining up a 15-foot par putt that he missed.

Rosenthal’s first chip-in came from 20 feet for a birdie on the 10th, a 454-yard monster par-4 – that dunk was Rosenthal’s third straight birdie and his fifth of the day. It left both of the leaders deadlocked for their stretch run that came down to the 90th hole of the tournament.

Eight down with two rounds to play, Rosenthal shot 74 on Friday, while Munetake had a 77.

“Even if it was eight strokes, I still would have had to grind it out just like today, but it helped a lot,” Rosenthal said, referring to the Friday start of his charge.

That only set the stage for Saturday.

“For sure, it is the round of my life with all the pressure that I felt coming into the last three holes,” Rosenthal said. “I just kept playing aggressive and not leaving myself in the wrong places.”

Rosenthal parred the final five holes after bogeys on seven and 11 and his sixth birdie on 13.

On the final highlight of the day, Rosenthal said, “I was just trying to get up there to make him make his putt, but it dropped. MIL champion, I dreamed about it last night actually and came into today feeling pretty good.”

The state tournament will be on the same course May 7-8.

“I just grinded, just scrambled hardcore, so knowing that I can’t wait for the state tournament,” Rosenthal said.

Munetake watched his lead disappear through 10 holes, but battled Rosenthal all the way to the finish.

“Malu played really well. I didn’t give it away, at least,” Munetake said. “This experience will make me tougher. I am excited for the state tournament. I mean, who wouldn’t be? We get to play this course. It is in really nice condition.”

After opening the round with an 11-shot lead, Locke watched five strokes of that bulge disappear within the first five holes.

“I went on a bogey streak from (holes) 1 to 3 and then I had another bogey on that long par-4, which is No. 5,” Locke said. “It is kind of hard to play like that because you want to have that much room, but when they start putting pressure on you, you start getting a little nervous. Marissa put pressure on me today, she did really good today.

“I was trying not to think about it, but sometimes it just pops into your head. I’m really excited (to win) because knowing that it is my first year, it is a real honor.”

Locke will be joined at the state tournament by freshman teammates Jasmine Cabajar, who finished fourth, Anna Apana, and junior Taylor Akamine. The girls state tournament is April 30 and May 1, also at Royal Kaanapali.

“That is really cool, I’m so glad my teammates made it,” Locke said. “It should be pretty fun.”

Both Baldwin boys and girls teams are in the state tournaments as MIL champions.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com