The 23rd Governor’s Tournament of Champions belonged to Ryan Kim, as he made a hole-in-one shot in the opening round last Saturday and capped the tournament with a title win in the Championship Flight yesterday at the Laolao Bay Golf & Resort.
Kim knocked in the ace on the par-3 No. 17 hole on the west course to win $5,000 from hole sponsor McDonald’s. It was his second hole-in-one shot in nearly a decade of playing golf with his first one also recorded at the Laolao facility on the par-3, 189-yard No. 3 on the west course three years ago.
The money shot gave Kim a 2-under par 70 in the first round for a tie for the lead with Franco Santos. The 26-year-old golfer then went on to finish at solo first place at the conclusion of Saipan’s premier golf tournament when he played better in the second and final round after shooting a 4-under par 68. Kim totaled for a 6-under par 138, just one stroke ahead of runner-up Brentt Salas of Guam.
Salas had the best score in the second round after firing a 5-under par 67, but settled for another bridesmaid finish, as he only had an even par 72 in the first round.
“Brent was so tough in the second round, so I just told myself to stay focus and also go all out, play without regrets even though I am hurting,” said Kim, who has an injury on his left shoulder.
“I was just going for my distance, going probably 80 percent on my swing, especially in the first round as it was so hot and no wind to assist me with my shot,” the former CNMI junior golfer said.
In the second round, Kim lost the lead to Salas after the first six holes, but the former played through pain and managed to regain his form, sealing the victory on hole No. 14 on the east course.
“I had an eagle on the No. 14 (par-5, 525-yard hole) while he made a birdie,” Kim said.
Kim then recorded two birdies on No. 15 and 17 and saved par on No. 16 and 18 to keep his shaky lead to successfully defend his Championship Flight crown. He won last year’s competition via playoff hole (No. 17) against Salas, as the former hit a birdie and the latter only parred the deciding hole.
Meanwhile, CNMI junior golfer Edward Lee joined Kim and Salas in the Top 3 after earning a two-day total of 144. Lee carded a 1-over par 73 in the opening round and a 1-under par 71 in the final. Rounding out the Top 5 placers in the Championship Flight were Franco Santos (147) and Gi Keong Kim (156). Ryan, Salas, and Edward Lee received $500, $400, and $300 respectively, while Santos and and Gi Keong were awarded with Casio watch and $100 gift card from DFS Saipan during the awards ceremony attended by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, TOC co-founder and DFS Saipan president Marian Aldan-Pierce, and TOC tournament director Tony Satur.
Winners in other divisions will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition.