HILO – If Hilo senior Riley Kaneshiro flew under the radar last year, that cover is gone after a blistering round on Wednesday at the Hilo Municipal Golf Course.
Kaneshiro fired a 4-under-par 67 to capture BIIF medalist honors in the season-opener, closing the back nine with a scorching 31.
He played with BIIF runner-up and Kamehameha senior Pono Yanagi, who had a 74, and 2016 BIIF champion and Waiakea junior Isaiah Kanno, who shot a 78. Kaneshiro’s cousin and teammate Ethan Hironaga, a junior, was second with a 72.
Waiakea, the two-time defending BIIF champion, won the team title by 10 strokes, powered by Kanno, Aidan Oki’s 78, Kobey Babas’ 82, and Riku Omata’s 84 for a 322 total.
Kaneshiro pointed to his putter as his best weapon. He knocked in six birdies and landed on greens to give himself opportunities. Best of all, he conquered the course’s soggy conditions and didn’t get close to any trap doors.
“I landed on greens and made putts. I didn’t spray my ball because of mud, and I caught fire on the back,” he said. “It was fairly simple putts. It was great and a lot of fun. I played in a stacked field, and it was a good start to my senior year.”
At one point, Kaneshiro and Hironaga were tied but the Hilo junior had a bad experience on the par 4 No. 15 hole. He shot a 7. Still, Hironaga had a big-picture outlook on his round.
“It could have been better, but I’m proud of what I did today,” Hironaga said. “On No. 15, on my third shot, I chunked it twice. That bludgeoned it. After that, I had to get back on track and trust the process. But overall, I’m pretty happy.”
Last season, Kaneshiro overcame a two-stroke deficit to win his first BIIF title.
The putts didn’t fall for Yanagi, who signed with Washington State, the same school his sister, Nani Yanagi, played golf at.
“It was a lot of fun, but I also learned what areas I have to improve to compete for the rest of the season,” he said. “I have to zero in on my putting and also make putts. When you miss those little putts, it shows on your score.
“I want to get my physical and mental game ready for college golf. I also want to have fun since it’s my senior year.”
Kanno fell into the same boat as Kaneshiro. He had one balloon hole. On No. 15, also Kaneshiro’s unfriendly hole, Kanno posted a 9.
“I hit two balls out of bounds,” he said. “I lost momentum.”
Sometimes on the golf course, there are banana peels. The key is to get it out of the way before things really count. Like his friendly rivals, Kanno is looking at the golf meets as preparation for the BIIF championships.
“I want to keep on practicing and working on my game to achieve that BIIF title,” he said.
Like Yanagi, Hironaga doesn’t own a BIIF crown. But he already knows what it takes to win one. He’s also first cousins with Tori Hironaga, a Waiakea senior on the girls team.
“I have to stay on the grind,” Hironaga said. “And keep at it.”