Kalani’s Hattori Is In The Sony

Richard Hattori. Marco Garcia photo / courtesy Sony Open

Richard Hattori, a senior at Kalani High School, is one of a handful local golfers teeing off in the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii Jan. 10 at Waialae Country Club.

Hattori, who paired off with PGA TOUR pro Ricky Barnes in the Sony Open’s 2012 Pro-Junior event and was the 2011 Hawaii State Junior Golf Association Player of the Year for the 15 to 18 age group, qualified for the Sony Open by winning the 2012 Gov. John Burns Challenge Cup last month.

He’s been golfing since he was 8 years old and dreams of becoming a professional golfer one day.

“I went to the Hawaii Kai Golf Course driving range for the first time with my dad and I really liked it,” Hattori recalls of his first golf experience. “I asked if I could play, but he didn’t think I was going to be serious.

“He bought me one club and I played around with it for a few days, and then I asked for a set, and he said only if I’m going to play seriously.”

Hattori then signed up for Casey Nakama’s Junior Golf Development Program at Olomana Golf Links, and a couple of years later started to take lessons from David Ishii, who continues to be his coach today.

“I like the challenge of golf,” says Hattori, who uses On Off golf clubs and lists Luke Donald as his favorite golfer. “And I just like hitting the ball.”

Hattori admits that balancing golf and school has not been easy. He tries to practice every day after school, and also enjoys surfing.

“I’m really excited about playing in the Sony Open,” he says.

In his golfing career, Hattori’s best score was an impressive 65 at Kaanapali on Maui, and he’s scored eight holes-in-one (although none in tournament play).

Another local golfer earning a spot in the Sony Open is Kevin Carll, head professional at host Waialae Country Club, who finished with a two-round score of 7-over 151 to win the Aloha Section Professional Championship golf tournament at Mauna Kea Golf Course this past August.

Each January, 144 of the world’s greatest golf professionals meet up for the Sony Open in Hawaii, which is the largest charity event in the state and has raised more than $12 million for local non-profits since 1999.

The Sony Open in Hawaii event schedule:

Jan. 7: the Sony Dream Cup Pro-Am (free admission)

Jan. 8: Professional Practice and Acura Hawaii Pro-Junior Skills Challenge (free admission)

Jan. 9: Sony Open in Hawaii Official Pro-Am

Jan. 10-13: Four rounds of Sony Open in Hawaii

General admission costs $50 at the gate for a season badge (weeklong admission), or $20 at the gate for a daily ticket.

For more information, visit sonyopeninhawaii.com.