“It’s been a long road,” said Trey Kaahanui, as he thoughtfully pondered his champion’s speech after this week’s PING Phoenix Junior. “When I won Heather Farr I was only 14, and I had no idea how hard it is to win,” Trey remembered. Two years later, after an up and down stretch during which he struggled to meet the expectations that came from shooting 65-65 in his first two AJGA rounds, Trey finally sees a light at the end of the tunnel. “I worked hard. I never gave up. It feels so good to be rewarded after going through all that.”
Kaahanui’s story goes beyond his win, however. During the final round of what would eventually turn into his second AJGA victory, he displayed the qualities that earned him the Jerry Cole Sportsmanship award in 2009. When Nathan Weant, who was in first place to start the day, birdied the 12th hole from the fringe to take a two shot lead, Trey flashed his easy smile and immediately ran over to pat Weant on the back. Meanwhile, the ever-present Kaahanui gallery, led by father Teddy, let out a big roar, as Teddy said, “What a great putt! Man, Nate is playing great.” After prevailing at the end of the day, Trey shook his head sadly, “Nathan’s such a great guy. He just had a tough couple holes. I wish I could share the trophy with him.”
In the end golf scores are just golf scores. But the perseverance, compassion, character, and yes, sportsmanship that Trey Kaahanui displayed on this day are what makes him a champion.
Submitted by AJGA West Regional Director, Larry Berroya