Many time national golfer Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho topped the second tryout for the CNMI National Golf Team for the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games last Sunday at the Coral Ocean Resort.
The 60-year-old Camacho fired a 6-over par 78 and was the only golfer Sunday to finish under 80. He started well with a 2-over par 38 in the front nine with birdies in holes No. 4 and 5. Camacho then fired a 4-over 40 in the back nine with his lone birdie coming in the 18th and final hole.
Coming in second in the men’s division of the Commonwealth Federation of Golf Associations-organized tryout was Franco Santos who came away with an 8-over 80 built around identical 40s in the first and last nine holes. He had a lone birdie in the 18th, just like Camacho.
Third place went to Fred Salaveria who finished a stroke above Santos with a 9-over 81. He started terribly with a 7-over 43 in the front nine before somehow steadying the ship in the back nine with a 2-over 38.
Camacho told Saipan Tribune that as always his biggest problem last Sunday at the Agingan golf course was his unfamiliarity with the setup at COP.
“Pretty much everything except for the putting was working. COP’s greens are the main challenge and not just for me but I guess for the entire field. I just don’t play there enough to get a better understanding on how to play the course because all golf courses have their own unique challenges and it’s what brings you back so you can overcome those challenges,” he said.
CFoGA president and CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan seconded Camacho on the challenges posed by COP.
“Coral Ocean Resort is challenging our golfers to use their skills and talents. I am sure the golfers are anxious to shoot a better round at the next tryout,” he said.
Camacho added that CFoGA allowing the use of golf carts after outlawing them in the first tryout didn’t really help golfers improve their scores.
“Using the carts doesn’t make the round much easier. It just made the round much faster for most of us. I think for the most part it would have been more interesting to see what the scores would be if we were walking. But the good thing is everyone was out there grinding and doing their best regardless of the outcome of the scores and that’s what I was really looking forward to is to see everyone’s competitive side,” he said.
In the women’s division, Nirimai Koebel paced the field with a 92. She totaled a 47 in the front nine and a 45 in the back. Lorraine Babauta came in second with a 94 (52-42), while Rose Rohringer completed the Top 3 with a 95 (46-49), including a birdie in hole No. 3.
In the male junior division, Li Zhi Yun shot an 89 to beat Joey “Kazu” Dela Cruz. Li had a 42 in his first nine holes before retiring with a 47 in his last nine that included a birdie in hole No. 17. Dela Cruz shot a 99 (50-49).
Zhimin Jin, meanwhile, topped the female junior division after she finished with an 85 built around 43 in the front nine and 42 in the back. She birdied hole No. 7. Soarin Oh was the only other finisher in the category and she came away with a 111 (59-52).