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MailTribune.com
  • GOLF

    Smashing debut

    Medford's Oshiro, 14, stays in hunt in first AJGA tournament
  • If the enormity of playing in her first American Junior Golf Association tournament weighed on Kiana Oshiro, it didn't show.
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    • JUNIOR ALL-STAR
      RECAP: Medford's Kiana Oshiro, 14, shoots a 69 to stay within one shot of leader Anna Zhou in the tournament for players ages 12-15. Oshiro opens with a par, then makes four straight birdies. She'l...
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      JUNIOR ALL-STAR
      RECAP: Medford's Kiana Oshiro, 14, shoots a 69 to stay within one shot of leader Anna Zhou in the tournament for players ages 12-15. Oshiro opens with a par, then makes four straight birdies. She'll be a freshman at North Medford High.

      UP NEXT: Final round, today at noon at Centennial Golf Club.
  • If the enormity of playing in her first American Junior Golf Association tournament weighed on Kiana Oshiro, it didn't show.
    The 14-year-old went about her business in a carefree and relaxed manner, as if on a walk in a park.
    You wouldn't know that she strung together four birdies early in the second round at Centennial Golf Club Wednesday, or that her career-best 69 kept her within one shot of the lead in the Junior All-Star event.
    On one hole, the incoming freshman at North Medford High took time to spot a couple fish in a pond while looking for an opponent's ball, then turned her putter around and acted as if she was casting a line.
    Just off another green, she bent and put her hand in a perpendicular position on the fringe. She might have been demonstrating the angle of her club face. She might have been catching a lady bug.
    On a tee box, she scampered backward in a full circle, her eyes zeroed in on a nosy bee.
    She smiled a lot, regardless of where her shot went, offered two thumbs up when she found a tee ball in the hay, carried a crooked stick that she gleaned from a tournament in California and generally just enjoyed her first foray into the AJGA ranks.
    As for the stick, a good-luck charm?
    "I don't' know, I just like collecting sticks and rocks," she said.
    Oshiro and Central Point's Daniele Giles, who rallied with two late birdies to shoot a 77, are in the Girls Division of the three-day Junior All-Star tournament, which is for players ages 12-15. Giles is in a tie for fifth place at 4 over.
    In the Boys Division, Medford's Joshua Wu was 2 under on his round and Reese Fisher 1 under, making them both 1 over for the tourney and tying them for 23rd. Jeremy Wu shot 76 and is tied for 35th.
    Leader Harrison Ott, of Brookfield, Wis., threatened to run away from the others. He made six birdies and a bogey on his first nine before parring out for a second straight 67. His 10-under is good for a two-stroke edge over Henry Lee, of Coquitlam, British Columbia.
    Logan Lowe, of Grass Valley, Calif., had the day's low round of 66.
    Today's final round for the All-Star tourney starts at noon. Oshiro and two-day leader Anna Zhou, of Palo Alto, Calif., tee off at 1 p.m.
    Oshiro entered the second round one shot behind Zhou and stayed there after each was 3 under in Round 2. The nearest pursuer is Alison Chang, of Walnut Creek, Calif., whose 144 total has her four behind Oshiro.
    Zhou, starting on the back side as well, played her first nine in even par, then made three birdies on her second nine for 69.
    She's seeking her fourth AJGA victory of the season and her third straight. With no finishes outside the top 20, she's 46th in the Polo Golf Rankings.
    Oshiro, who took up golf seven years ago, has played in several big tournaments, but none larger than this, she said.
    "This is it," she nodded. "I was excited because this was my first AJGA."
    Nerves don't seem to be a hindrance, and the two bogeys she made against five birdies didn't come with any residual effect.
    "What's done is done," said Oshiro. "I just don't want to have any regrets."
    "Even though I got, like, a couple bogeys, I got it back, then lost it again. I was pretty much relaxed because if you put stress on yourself, it's not gonna turn out well."
    Oshiro started on the back nine and, after a par at No. 10, birdied the next four holes.
    The long-hitting youngster — a drive of 250 yards is about average — reached the par-5 11th green in two from 200 yards. To her horror, the ball rolled up amidst the group ahead.
    She rushed to the three players and made sincere apologies.
    "I don't like doing that," she said, "because I don't want anyone to get really mad at me."
    The two-putt birdie was followed by a 9-iron into the next hole for a short birdie, a short pitch on No. 13 that led to another and a 9-iron on the par-3 14th to about 3 feet.
    Being 4 under through five holes didn't prompt visions of grandeur. What happens, happens, she said.
    "I was happy of course," said Oshiro. "Four birdies in a row, that's pretty good."
    Her first bogey came on No. 16, when her laser yardage-finder went on the fritz and she came up short of the green on her third shot, then two-putted.
    "We didn't know if we were allowed to ask other players for the yardage," said Oshiro, who later learned it's OK. "I tried to go with feel, but I didn't have any."
    Her other bogey came on the seventh hole, her 16th, when her pin-high chip from 16 feet off the green ran a touch long and she two-putted.
    Among the highlights of Oshiro's young career were a victory in her first Oregon Golf Association event a year ago at Centennial and a win in her division three weeks ago at the Veritas World Junior in Pasadena, Calif., during which she made her first hole-in-one.
    It was in the latter that she found her stick.
    And even though she might find another today, her focus will be on golf and achieving a simple goal:
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