Kua, Oride In The Swing With UH

T.J. Kua: going in the right direction

Nearly 20 percent does-n’t sound like much. But in some instances, such as commissions in real estate sales, it can amount to a chunk of change in your pocket.

It’s also a big number when you’re talking about how much the University of Hawaii men’s golf team depends on players from Kaua’i.

Roughly 20 percent – to be exact, two out of 11, or 18 percent.

That twosome is junior T.J. Kua of Lihu’e, who attended Kamehameha Schools, and sophomore Cory Oride, also of Lihu’e, who starred on the Kaua’i High School team.

“So far in college my game has been on and off,” Oride says.

“I’m still getting used to the college life and time managing. Schoolwork and taking care of myself demands so much time that it doesn’t allow me to practice for hours and hours every day like I was able to do while in high school.”

Both men have flourished since they were able to pick up a golf club, churning their way through the famed Kaua’i Junior Golf program led by golf legend Mary Bea Porter-King.

Cory Oride: stepping it up on longer courses

“As far as my level of play since junior golf, it has definitely improved,” Kua says.

“It’s not a drastic improvement, but I’m going in the right direction. My swing may not be much better from a technical standpoint, but I have matured a lot since those days. The decisions I make on a golf course are smarter. My mind is sharper and stronger. With experience comes knowledge, and that’s where the big difference in my game is from my days playing junior golf.”

Oride says since those younger years, his biggest improvement in his game has been his course management.

“The courses we play in college are way longer and harder, so I was sort of forced to step it up in that aspect of my game to allow myself to be able to compete at this Division 1 college level,” he says.

For Kua, golf is in his blood. His uncle is former Japan PGA Tour member and 1990 Hawaiian Open champion David Ishii. In addition, his father Stanley played football and baseball at UH.

At Kamehameha, he helped lead his team to a state title in 2007 and was four-time ILH golfer of the year. At states, he finished second as a junior and ninth as a senior, with a scoring average of 69.4.

As a freshman at UH, he competed in all 10 tournaments, ranking second on the team with an average of 74.1 strokes per round. He also tallied top individual marks at the Kaua’i Collegiate Invitational, UH-Hilo Invitational and the WAC Championship.

In his sophomore season, he also played in all 10 competitions, moving up to No. 1 on the squad, with a 73.9 average. He was Hawaii’s top player in six tournaments.

Now in his junior year, Kua, a business management major, continues to get better. Just last month he helped UH take home third-place honors at the Kaua’i Collegiate Invitational at the majestic Puakea Golf Course. It was their best finish since the 2007 WAC Championships, where they placed second. Kua led the way with a final round 70.

“Things are going fairly well at UH,” Kua says. “I can’t say I’m pleased with my performance so far, but it’s a work in progress.”

Oride had a stellar performance as well, shooting a three-round total of 229. The 2009 Kaua’i High graduate is a two-time KIF individual medal-ist, as a member of four consecutive KIF championship teams. In his senior season, he tied for third at the state tournament.

As a UH freshman this season, Oride has competed in all but one of the team’s tournaments and ranked second on the squad with an average of 76.5. He took top individual honors at both the Turtle Bay Resort College Invitational and the John Burns Intercollegiate.

“I like it here,” Oride says. “I’m one of the stronger players on the team, so it gives me an opportunity to be part of the travel team and go on the tournament road trips and experience the competition of Division 1 golf. We’ve competed in tournaments with a lot of top-ranked schools in the nation such as Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, San Diego, Washington and Oklahoma State, to name a few.

“It’s pretty cool, because I’ve gotten to play with some great players who will probably be out on the PGA Tour in the future.”

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