The who’s who of the local golf scene were selected yesterday to the CNMI National Golf Team that will represent the islands in the 6th Micronesian Games set here on Saipan from June 23 to July 2.
Leading the group is veteran par-buster Jess Wabol, who topped the qualification round with an average of 73 in all nine tournaments.
He will be joined by fellow 2003 Suva South Pacific Games veteran Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho, and local champions Sasaki Oliver, Jeff Taylor, and Tony Satur, who will serve as playing coach.
Camacho, Taylor, and Oliver all averaged a 75 in the qualifiers, while Satur was the last to make the cut after norming a score of 79 in eight starts. Like Wabol, Camacho played in nine qualifiers, while Taylor and Oliver saw action in eight and seven, respectively.
The five also were the top finishers in the final four qualifiers from the more challenging blue tee; with Wabol again pacing the group with his 74 average followed by Oliver’s 75, Taylor and Camacho’s 78, and Satur’s 80.
In the final qualifier held last Saturday at the Coral Ocean Point Golf Resort, Wabol ruled the field anew with his 73 after taming the greens and fairways with a 37 on the front and 36 on the back nine.
Taylor was second this time after firing a 36 and a 38 in the front and back nines to finish just a stroke behind the former Oleai Elementary School principal with his 74. Oliver shot a 75 (37-38), Camacho a 79 (40-39), and Satur an 81 (42-39).
Other participants in Saturday’s event were Richard Pierce, Alex Aquiningoc, Jack Sablan, and Adam Hardwick.
Wabol, who served as coordinator of the nine men’s qualifiers, also named the five-person women’s team yesterday and they are the mother-and-daughter tandem of Noriko and Yuko Togawa, Shiori Onoue, Aya Matsumoto, and Delle Grandinetti.
The older Togawa topped the qualifiers with her average of 80 in eight rounds, while Onoue (87), Matsumoto and Grandinetti (90), and Yuko (92) followed suit.
The Refaluwasch Golf Association president, however, said that the women’s team is not set in stone yet as Grandinetti has been injured and is currently in the Philippines seeking medical attention. If doctors will not clear her, her slot will be given to Emily Santos who is next in line.
In the final women’s qualifiers also held Saturday at COP, Noriko was in her element and shot a 78 after a 38 in the front nine and 40 in the back. Yuko was next with her 85 (42-43) followed by Onoue (89, 46-43) and Matsumoto (86, 42-44).
Aside from golf, sports featured for the Games are athletics, baseball for men, beach volleyball, basketball, fast pitch softball, spear fishing, swimming, tennis, triathlon, outrigger canoeing, table tennis, volleyball, wrestling for men, weightlifting, and Micronesian All-Around.
The Games is expected to draw 1,500-1,700 athletes, coaches, and officials from around region. It was last held on Saipan in 1990. The state of Yap originally won the bid to host next year’s Games, however, it begged off citing the devastation to its facilities caused by typhoons. Subsequently, the Micronesian Games Organizing Council awarded the Games to the CNMI.