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Wie gives Hawaii a major winner ... 57 years after Pung's DQ

June 23rd, 2014

When Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open on Sunday, I tried to recall if any other golfer from Hawaii — man or woman — had won a major.

Ann Miller reminded me that David Ishii had won some on the Japan tour.

And she mentioned Jackie Pung.

Ah, yes, Jackie Pung … one of Hawaii's all-time sports greats, period. Winner of five LPGA tournaments in the 1950s.  Famous for celebrating with hula at the 18th green.

She was second at the U.S. Women's Open in 1953 and tied for third in the LPGA Championship in 1958.

And in 1957 she needed the fewest strokes to finish the U.S. Women's Open at Winged Foot in New York. But Pung fell victim to one of the worst things that can happen to a golfer — forfeiting victory due to an incorrect scorecard.

As the tournament ended, it seemed Pung had won. And in reality, she had taken one fewer stroke than Betsy Rawls to complete the tournament. The 72 for her final round total on her scorecard was correct, but the 5  for the fourth hole was wrong.

Pung and her playing partner, Betty Jameson, both wrote down 5 for the hole (per the rules, keeping each other's score), but both actually took 6 strokes to complete the hole.

Although the total score Pung signed for was correct, the scorecard was deemed incorrect and she was disqualified.

Pung was a popular player, and in the '50s even the top woman pros struggled financially. USGA officials, reporters and fans took up a collection. Reports vary from $2,000 to $4,000 being raised for her. She would have received $1,800 for first place.


Observations from a soccer enthusiast

June 16th, 2014


I appreciate that you wrote a column on U.S. soccer today.  I’ve played all my life, and at 56 I’m still playing.  I’ve followed the U.S. national team closely since the World Cup in 1994 (that was the year of the baseball strike.  And sports channels across the nation gave a few minutes of air time for the World Cup, but much more for the nail biting developments of the baseball strike….).

I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve noticed that local sports columnists across the U.S. somehow feel compelled to write a token column during every World Cup while ignoring the sport almost entirely during the four year periods between the event.  So I don’t pay much attention to them (like the World Cup A-Z ditty that your colleague wrote the other day).   But since your column focused on a long-lived story, I thought I’d add some observations that you might find worthwhile.  (But no offense if you don’t, or if you’re not interested.  I have no pretenses that everyone should be interested in soccer just because I am).
First, the U.S. has qualified for the World Cup every time since 1990 — and that is not easy.  Yes, we don’t play in Europe or South America where the national competition is harder, but qualifying for the World Cup in North America is no picnic.  We have to compete against the likes of Costa Rica (just knocked off perennial powerhouse Uruguay 3-1), and Mexico (just beat Cameroon — a historically great team).
Second, like most teams that get the World Cup a lot, the U.S. has had some good years, some mediocre ones, and some flameouts.  We made it to the Quarterfinals in 2002 after beating Portugal in group play (no one expected that), and thoroughly dominating Mexico in the first knockout game.  We lost to Germany 1 - 0 in the next round, after hitting the post twice and outplaying them.  The U.S. played respectably in the 2010 Cup, even though Ghana beat us in the first knockout game.  But Ghana is a very, very good team.  No one in the world of soccer doubts their ability.  And the year before that, the U.S. reached the final of the Confederations Cup after beating Spain 2 - 0, and losing to the Champion Brazil 3-2.  Not too shabby.
Even historically great soccer nations have terrible tournaments, like Spain losing 5-1 the other day, France and Italy bombing out in the first round in 2010, and England seemingly never failing to underperform.   But that’s international soccer.
If you want to read a good book about what makes some countries successful vs. unsuccessful, and which countries will probably emerge as global powerhouses, you should read Soccernomics (written by two economists who crunched a lot of data).  It explains a lot.
Your column focused on Kyle Rote, a guy I remember.  But Kyle, as dedicated and talented as he was, could’t hold a candle to modern U.S. players like Dempsey, Bradley, Howard, and others.  These guys have proven themselves in the top professional leagues of the world.  And others are following in their footsteps.  Meanwhile,  the MLS is pulling off a quiet miracle by not just surviving 20 years, but coming out with a great product and dedicated fan base with a stable business model.  If you attended a game in Portland or Seattle, you wouldn’t believe you’re in the U.S.  The fans are over the top in their enthusiasm.  Obviously, soccer is not for everyone, and I can appreciate that.  Neither can anyone convince me that a sport like golf is an interesting game to watch.  It’s all personal.
Final thoughts — while the U.S. is in the famous ‘Group of Death’ this cup, the only reason any group gets that name is because all four teams are considered capable of getting through the group.   That’s the working definition of that term.  And I can assure you that Germany, Portugal, and Ghana is not taking the U.S. lightly.  And re having a foreign coach, the US has had American coaches before (Arena, Sampson, Bradley) with some success and some failure.  There’s nothing noteworthy about the particular nationality of a coach — it’s what their vision is, how they choose players and motivate them, etc.
Keith Mattson


June 13th, 2014

In the interest of hearing out differing opinions, here's an email reader Gary Beck said I could share. He described today's column about the Washington NFL team's nickname as an "atrocity." Interesting choice of word considering the subject matter and origin of the nickname:

I was exceedingly disappointed to learn that you have been seduced by a narrow view (financed no doubt by casinos and tax-free cigarettes) of a much larger situation. From what I have read, only 10% of native Americans hold such a view, and the rest don't care.  I have seen the ad and nearly barfed.
I see this ad as a version of the Cloward and Piven strategy for forcing change (overwhelm the opposition thru sensationalism and deceit), Obama's strategies for inducing societal change, and even the Abercrumb's trying to sell pig-in-a-poke universal Pre-K Ed.  The next step in this scenario is to vilify and roundly castigate any and all dissenters.

The larger issue is that an attack such as the ad ignores something all American sports fans do--love their teams as they are because the names are steeped in tradition.  If the trend involving the D.C. pro football team is allowed to continue, what will happen to the Cleveland Indians (with the ugly logo), Kansas City Chiefs, Florida State Seminoles, Atlanta Braves, some U in the Dakotas named the Fighting Sioux, the Fighting Illini in Illinois, and many others?

What will happen if a bunch of southerners demand that the name of the baseball Yankees be changed to Carpetbaggers?
What is needed is a balance between tradition and propriety.

Bob Welch's UH connection

June 11th, 2014

When Bob Welch died at age 57 this week, it brought back the memory that I was a fan of his. And I really couldn't remember why; he was a Dodger, and I never was a Dodgers fan.

Then, when reading this story in the New York Times, I remembered … his early moment of glory against the Yankees and Reggie Jackson in 1978 — the year the Yankees derailed the Red Sox in particularly excruciating fashion (the Bucky Dent year). And the Red Sox were the center of my 17-year-old life.

I also grew to respect Bob Welch and root for him not just because of this Cy Young award or 20-win seasons but because of his battle with alcoholism.

Many University of Hawaii baseball fans met Welch, because his son Riley played for UH in 2011 and 2012.

UH coach Mike Trapasso told me that even though he didn't get much action until his senior year, Riley Welch never complained. Neither did his dad.

Riley Welch performed well in the 10 games he did pitch, with a cumulative ERA well under 3.00. He is now an assistant coach at Presentation College in South Dakota.

"Riley is a big part of our Rainbow Warrior ohana," Trapasso said. "And our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."


Possible Solutions

June 1st, 2014

At the end of Friday's column I asked that if anyone had ideas about how to solve the fiscal problems at University of Hawaii athletics to share them. Some of you took me up on it:

Dear David:

Thank you for your article in this morning’s Star Advertiser (“No Easy Answers to UH’s Athletic Budget Troubles”).

I have a few comments:

1.     UH, the university, and the athletic department in particular, is experiencing what every family, business and other enterprise in Hawaii is facing ---- escalating operating costs.  My understanding is that the athletic department’s aggregate fixed operating costs (salaries, facility management and maintenance, supplies, rentals, repairs, insurance, transportation, etc.) are increasing at higher rates than in the past.  Every islander knows this who purchases a half-gallon or milk or a gallon of gasoline.  The stadium issue and travel subsidies aside, like Hawaii’s families, it is the day-to-day cost of living that is becoming less manageable.  UH won’t solve its cost challenges until they are solved for the state in general.

2.     There are, however, some creative ways to stem the incoming tide of red ink

·         Northwestern University’s “Purple Pricing” ---- innovative new pricing system where ticket prices may go down over time based on consumer demand, but will never increase  --- NU squeezed several hundreds of thousands of additional dollars out of their football schedule using “Purple Pricing”

·         Form a state corporation along the lines of the non-profit corporation that owns the Green Bay Packers   ---- Packer Backers can buy non-revenue shares in the corporation (when they are available)  --- a few years ago the corporation issued another million or so shares to fund a major upgrade of Lambeau Field  --- the shares are so revered they are discussed at cocktail parties and passed on to heirs

·         Here is some creativity in athletic-related fund-raising:  Texas Residents Can Now Reserve Shares of E.J. Manuel Fantex, a start-up looking to sell stocks tied to athletes' earnings, has announced that eligible residents of Texas can place reservations for shares linked to E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills, MarketWatch reports.  Perhaps UH graduates playing in the NFL could form a hui and be the source of Hawaii’s version of E.J. Manuel Fantex.

Michael Sacharski


Dear Dave,

I read your column today and have a solution to UH's financial problem. Although it is drastic, it is the cause of the problem.  There are too many teams that bring in little or NO income such as softball, sailing, track, swimming and women's basketball. These team travel, are given uniforms, and have paid coaches.

Although it will be drastic to cut some sports out of the athletic program, maybe it will be necessary.

A wonderful philanthropist is Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire Warren Buffett,  who is giving away money to worthy causes.  Log on to to contact her. Maybe she'll finance the UH Athletic Program.


Howzit Dave.
I just read today’s (Friday 5/30/14) column by Ferd Lewis. Are you two guys in cahoots?

Seems to me, according to what I read in your column(s) they are related. Is Oceanic or ESPN hurting for lack of funds? Oh yeah,not to mention the Big West. My impression, although based on limited knowledge, is that U.H. athletics are being hijacked by big business and not getting a fair share. Same thing with “our politicians” with big business and out of control development. Jade Moon touts a sustainable Hawaii? Are you kidding? Oh Yeah,getting back to U.H., who’s in charge of the contracts and deals with these guys? The so called Regents?

Who’s idea was it to buy out the contracts for coaches and administrators?

The Regents gotta go!

Name withheld by request


Dave – At many institutions like my own, The University of Texas at San Antonio, we asked students to vote on whether they wanted to pay more to support the start of football about 5 years ago. They voted and spoke with their votes and now we have one of the most successful early career football programs around. If there is a referendum, it should be first put to the students. Your point is well taken about a general referendum among the electorate, although Hawaii is unique since there are no major professional sports teams and UHM fills that gap.
Alan R. Shoho, Ed.D.
Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Support
Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
The answer to the UH budget woes is quite simple. Treat the budget as if it was your own money and make certain the checkbook balances at the end of each month.
There! That wasn't so difficult, was it? Or is it? I guess the best and the brightest are not always who they think they are.
Rick Ornellas