Atalig tops Mini Games golf tryout

J.J. Atalig

J.J. Atalig, seen here in this file photo from the most recent Tournament of Champions, topped the national golf team tryouts for the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games last Saturday at the Coral Ocean Resort. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

J.J. Atalig got ahead in the race for slots in the CNMI National Golf Team for the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games after topping last Saturday’s tryouts at the Coral Ocean Resort.

The many-time CNMI national player shot a 5-over par 77 to top the leaderboard in the 27-man strong qualifier in the men’s division. Atalig started out strong, firing a 1-under 35 in the first nine holes with birdies in holes No. 7 and 9. He slowed down a bit in the back nine though, shooting a 6-over 42.

Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho finished a stroke behind his fellow former national player at 6-over par 78. The 60-year-old par-buster shot a 4-over par 40 in the front nine before redeeming himself a bit with a 2-over par 38 in the back. He shot birdies in holes No. 9 and 18.

Third place last Saturday was a tie between Peter “Dung” Tenorio and Chris Groves who both came away with an identical score of 8-over par 80. Tenorio scored a 42-38, while Groves had even 40s.

In the women’s side, Nirimai Koebel topped the tryout with a 95 built around a 45 in the front and a 50 in the back. Second place went to Janet Torres (100, 49-51), while third place was Rose Rohriner (107, 53-54).

In the men’s junior division, Li Zhi Yun ruled the roost with a 13-over part 85, including a birdie in hole No. 1. He shot a 39 in the front and a 45 in the back. Joshua Atalig came in second with a 15-over par 87 (43-44), while third place was Joey “Kazu” Dela Cruz with his 106 (53-53).

Jin Zhimin notched the No. 1 spot in the women’s junior division after she totaled a 15-over par 87 built around a 46 in the first nine holes and a 41 in the last nine. Soarin Oh (118, 61-57) and Haram Lee (121, 57-64) came in second and third, respectively.

Commonwealth Federation of Golf Associations president Edward Manibusan was happy with the turnout in the first tryout for the CNMI National Golf Team for next year’s Mini Games.

“I’m impressed with the number who showed up. Golfers were out of their comfort zone as the men played from the blue tees and ladies from the white. They now know what to expect so the scores will improve. Four more to go!” he said.

The CNMI attorney general, who himself has a mean golf swing, wants more golfers to show up in the next series of tryouts for the Mini Games, which the CNMI will be hosting for the first time ever.

“I’m encouraging more players to try out. Persons wishing to caddy for a player are welcome. Thanks to the players for joining and COP for a fabulous golf course,” he said.

CFoGA is looking at forming a national team made up of two men’s players, two junior men’s players, two women’s players, and two junior women’s players.

Pacific Games Council eligibility rules dictate that only U.S. citizens who are CNMI residents can try out for the national team. Another eligibility requirement CFoGA included is anyone trying out should also be a member of any CFoGA-sanctioned club. The rest of the four tryouts are set on Sept. 5, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, and Oct. 16.

Aside from Manibusan, CFoGA’s officers include vice president J.J. Atalig, secretary/treasurer Lorraine Babauta, social and media officer Geri Dela Cruz, and golf tournament coordinators Marco Peter and Joey Dela Cruz. Peter incidentally is also the chairman of the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee.

For more information on the CFoGA tryouts for the Mini Games, call Dela Cruz at 783-4287 and Atalig at 285-1612.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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