The fledging CNMI Federation of Golf Associations has named its team that will represent the Commonwealth to the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu later this year.
The group’s official David Largent, during the Northern Marianas Sports Association monthly meeting last Thursday at the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, said Harry Nakamura, Franco Santos, and junior golfer Dong Young Lee are selected to compete in the quadrennial tournament after making the grade in the one-day qualifying tournament held late last month.
Nakamura and Santos are both working as golf instructors at the Laolao Bay Golf and Resort and are perennial contenders in local tournaments, while Lee has also been seeing action in tournaments here, holding his ground against battle tested players.
Lee was this year’s NMC Foundation Open winner and he also topped the 21st Hyatt Regency Saipan Charity Golf Classic held in April. The junior golfer joined the elite Governor’s Tournament of Champions, too and finished fifth in the Championship Flight of last month’s competition. Nakamura was the third placer in the Championship Flight behind Ryan Park and Guam’s Brett Salas.
Before his No. 3 finish in TOC, Nakamura ruled the Docomo Golf Classic with partner Louie Tilipao, who incidentally was named as alternate on the CNMI Golf Team. Three-time TOC winner (Championship Flight) Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho is the squad’s coach.
Meanwhile, joining the golfers on Team Marianas are the islands’ athletics and rugby squads. Northern Marianas Athletics said it will send two male and two female athletes, plus one coach to the Pacific Mini Games, which will run from Dec. 2 to 14. Rugby, on the other hand, is allowed to bring as much as 12 players, excluding its coaches.
In related news, NMSA president Michael White reiterated to team officials sending athletes to the Mini Games to turn in a brief report about their respective squad’s preparation for the competition in next month’s meeting.
White also informed interested squads about the proposed alternative routes to Vanuatu. According to the NMSA head, Aircalin is proposing flights from Tokyo and Osaka to Nouméa, New Caledonia and connections to Port Vila, Vanuatu. The New Caledonia airline company would like to get the number of passengers and dates of travel from the participating countries as soon as possible so it could work on the best airfare rates. Before, athletes coming from Micronesia go to Tokyo and then Australia (Sydney or Brisbane) before heading to Vanuatu.