For many in America, February 6th 2005 will go down as the day the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the 39th Super Bowl. However, for a group of golfers on the west coast, Northern California in particular, and Stanford University specifically, this day will be remembered as the day Will Yanagisawa won the 27th Hawaii Pearl Open.
For Yanagisawa to win the tournament, he shot a 65 on Friday, February 4th and a 66 on Saturday the 5th.
A mutual friend, who played golf with Will ten days ago at Stanford, suggested he throw away a new long putter he was using.
"You are a fantastic putter - get rid of that thing," he said.
Will brought back his old putter, and in the first round at the Pearl, only needed twenty-nine putts!
A tie-breaker against Japan's Tetsuji Hiratsuka on the three-day of the HPO tournament clinched Yanagisawa's victory.
Going into the final round on Sunday, Will led the tournament by one stroke.
On Sunday at 12:44am, before his victory against Hiratsuka, Will wrote a number of close friends and fans:
After rain delays and 27 holes today I'm -11 (65-66) through two rounds of the Pearl Open.
Looking forward to a fun final round!
Check out www808Golf.com for scores and updates from Hawaii!
This morning, Yanagisawa graces 808Golf's Homepage.
Above, Yanagisawa shares the spotlight with the low amateur winner, 17-year-old Yuki Ito of Ibaraki, Japan.
In the final round of the tournament on Sunday, Yanagisawa shot a 69.
The thirty-three year-old California pro ended the "final" round of the tournament tied with Hiratsuka after regulation play at 14-under par.
Tetsuji Hiratsuka is a 33-year-old touring pro from Japan who has been a member of the Japan Golf Tour Organization for the past eleven years.
On Sunday afternoon, Yanagisawa and Hiratsuka began their tie-breaker each with a total score of 200.
It took sinking a par putt on 18, the first playoff hole for Yanagisawa to win $12,000 and the large green and silver trophy.
Will Yanagisawa's win also earns him a chance to compete in the upcoming ATT.
Yanagisawa & Hiratsuka
Ito shot 70-67-71 during the tournament. His 6-under par total score was 208.
While Yanagisawa was busy beating Hiratsuka, 19 year-old, Sakura Yokomine (left) was drawing major media attention during her professional debut.
Sakura shot a 71 for a 54-hole total of 208 to finish in a six-way tie for 17th place.
The 2004 Japan LPGA rookie of the year shot 67-70-71--208 in Hawaii, ending the predominantly male tournament 6-under par.
Watch out Michelle Wie; here comes Sakura Yokomine!
Will Yanagisawa, The Comeback Kid
Just eighteen months ago, Yanagisawa was teaching a golf class to Stanford Business School students.
Thanks in part to a $180,000 donation from former teammate, Tiger Woods, the popular program was jump-started and opened to all Stanford students.
The All-American golfer taught three classes of ten students. All thirty students were from the business school.
This teaching program and break were obviously good for Will's competitive game.
Recently, Yanagisawa rededicated himself to the sport as a professional tour player.
The Comeback Kid hopes to now join former team mate, Tiger Woods with whom he played at Stanford University.
June 1995 Stanford Golf Team Stars: At 6 o'clock, Will, (clockwise) Notah Begay, Casey Martin, Steve Burdick & Tiger Woods
In 1994 and 1995, Yanagisawa was a major force on the Stanford Golf Team.
In 1994, the team, with Coach Wally Goodwin leading the way, won the NCAA title.
Goodwin's 1994 team became the school's seventh NCAA men's golf championship team when they captured the title for the first time in more than forty years. It also earned Goodwin the NCAA Coach of the Year award.
Will's teammates included four guys by the name of Tiger Woods, Notah Begay III, Steve Burdick and their captain, Casey Martin.
In 1995, Wally, Will and their team made it to the finals.
Martin became a celebrity when he received permission to use a golf cart on the tour. Today, he is at home in Eugene Oregon where he has partial status on the Nationwide Tour.
Martin was thrilled to hear the news of his former teammate's win.
Steve Burdick, at Stanford from 1992-94, has since retired from the game of golf.
An All-American in 1993, Burdick is now a minister at the Community Covenant Church in Rocklin, California.
Notah Begay III played for the Cardinal from 1990-'95, and was named All-America in 1992, '94, and `95. Begay recently qualified, and is now a member of the PGA Tour.
In his first two matches as a member of the PGA, Begay won.
Notah is back on The Farm this week to deliver a speech to fellow Stanford students.
Hopefully, he will have time to give his old buddy, Will a call and pump him up.
Of course, we all know the fifth player on that early nineties Stanford team.
Northern & Southern California's Will Yanagisawa
Just over a decade ago, Will transferred to Stanford from UC Irvine after playing in Southern California in 1991 and 1992.
He is originally from Long Beach, California.
Today, Will still lives in the Bay Area.
In fact, last night, after winning in the Aloha state, he took a red eye flight back to San Francisco to make a 9am Monday morning tee-time with hopes of qualifying for the PGA Tour's AT&T Pro-Am.
At the time of this post, Will will be nearly finished competing at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose.
He has some stiff competition today in the open qualifying rounds for the AT&T.
Nearly 200 players are playing at either Silver Creek or at San Juan Oaks Golf Club in Hollister.
Only two spots will be available at each venue.
Among Will's competition are: PGA Tour veteran Sam Randolph and Nationwide Tour members Matt Bettencourt and David Sutherland.
To send Will a note of congratulations and good wishes this week, write: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward it to him.
Will, on behalf of all your fans, teammates, students at Stanford, and friends and extended family around the Bay Area, "Ho'omaikai" -- which means "Congratulations" in Hawaiian!
We are very proud of you.
For one of the best write-ups of Will Yanagisawa's victory at the Hawaii Pearl Open, go to Honolulu's Star Bulletin at:
Inspire & Be Inspired.
Here's to healthy, adventuresome, soulful, "future Aloha Spirit WKY victories on the Mainland" living!
~ Jennifer Carolyn King
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In other golf news this week:
The 2005 3M Celebrity Challenge will be held February 9th at Pebble Beach.
At holes Nos. 1, 2, 3, 17 and 18, celebrities will contend for money to be donated to a charity of their choice.
The total purse this year is $29,000.
Some of the celebrities confirmed to play are actors: Clint Eastwood, Samuel L. Jackson and Craig T. Nelson, comedians Bill Murray, George Lopez and Ray Romano, along with musicians Kenny G. and Huey Lewis.
The Celebrity Challenge begins at 11 am on Wednesday.