Punahou grad Ching leads NCAA tourney
Advertiser Staff and News Services
Neither heavy downpour nor a double bogey got in the way of San Diego's Alex Ching.
He's learned a thing or two since his last time in the NCAA Division I men's golf tournament.
"If you take one minute off your shot or take one minute off thinking about what you're doing, it can jump up and get you," said Ching, a Punahou School alum. "I went into today thinking about every shot and keeping my mind in the present, and I hit pretty good shots around the green.
"I was just thinking, 'Don't screw up like last year.' "
Ching felt the butterflies in his stomach as he stepped up to the 545-yard, par-5 17th hole, halfway through his round at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. After hitting it in the middle of the fairway flanked by water to the left and thick trees to the right, he layed up, then dropped the ball onto the green 6 feet from the hole and made the putt for a birdie — one of eight for the round that helped him tie the course single-round record with a 6-under 66.
Ching's 9-under 135 total is two strokes better than Augusta State's Henrik Norlander (69) and Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein (68). Illinois' Scott Langley also was tied for second, but had one final hole to play before darkness suspended play.
A year ago, Ching was of to a strong start with a 5 under through 10 holes in the second round before rain and darkness interrupted his play. He finished that round the next day with a 68 only to follow it up with a 76 to drop well out of the race.
Elsewhere: Honolulu's Tadd Fujikawa fired a 1-over 73 in yesterday's first round of the eGolf tour's inaugural HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn, N.C. He is 10 shots out of first.