Friday, November 1, 2013
Kamito Hirai, a 2009 Pinewood graduate, recently competed in the 2013 Japan Open Golf Tournament.
Hirai played his way into the tournament during qualifying rounds, held in Japan, in July and August of this year. The tournament, which is similar to the US Open, is the national championship of Japan and featured numerous professional players, many of whom play either in the U.S. on the PGA tour or on the European and Asian professional tours.
A total of eight amateurs qualified in the field of 154 players. The tournament was played at the Ibaraki Golf club outside of Tokyo. Total prize money for the event was 2 million dollars, although Hirai was playing as an amateur and ineligible for any prize money.
Hirai opened the tournament with a 1-under-par 70 that put him in ninth place after the opening round. The second day saw him post a 2-over 73. On day two Kamito’s sister Reona, who graduates from Pinewood in May and had flown over with their mom to watch him play, got a chance to serve as his caddy. Hirai’s two-day score of 1 over was good enough for him to make the cut as the field was reduced from 154 players to 64. Day three proved to be a tough one as he had a 7-over 78. Day four saw him rebound with another 73 to finish tied for 48th.
“This was a great experience and great showing for Kamito,” Pinewood golf coach Greg Baechtle said. “The tournament is one of the biggest in Asia and attracts a lot of quality players. To be able to play in your country’s national championship is quite an accomplishment.”
Kamito graduated from Winthrop in 2013 and won state golf championship with Baechtle in 2006, 2008, 2009.