Dalen Yamauchi’s wayward shot in a sudden-death playoff Tuesday pretty much summed up the day for the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
One round after everything seemed to go right, Yamauchi and the Vulcans took a step back.
Playing on its home course, Grand Canyon stormed right on ahead.
Jimmy Kozikowski caught Yamauchi with a 4-under 68 and then won the championship on the extra hole to cap a big day for the Antelopes at the Pacific West Conference golf finals in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Grand Canyon shot 2-under 286 to make up a nine-shot deficit on the Vuls and captured its fifth PacWest title in seven seasons.
UHH coach Earl Tamiya couldn’t quite explain the turn of events at Wigwam Golf Course outside Phoenix.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Tamiya, whose team held an eight-shot lead as the day began and was searching for its second league title in three seasons. “We just played bad. Grand Canyon played well.
“No excuses. I wanted this one in the worst way. I’m still thinking about what I’m going to tell the team.”
Armed with a four-shot lead after a 69 in the first round, Yamauchi bogeyed three holes on the front nine and two on the back for a 75 to finish at even-par 144. Kozikowski, meanwhile, was 4-over for the tournament with nine holes left to play, but he reeled off four birdies over a five-hole stretch to force the playoff.
On the par-4 No. 18, Yamauchi, a junior and a graduate of Waiakea High, hit his second shot into the bunker and needed four shots to reach the green. He fell short when Kozikowski two-putted for par.
U HH and Grand Canyon golfers occupied the top six spots on the final leaderboard.
Vulcans sophomore Jamie Hall (74) was 1-over until a double bogey on No. 17. He finished fifth at 147, while junior teammate Corey Kozuma (74) was another shot back and shared co-PacWest Player of the Year honors with Kozikowski on the basis of a pre-tournament coaches’ vote.
Kozuma and Kyeton Littel (77), who tied for 18th at 10-under, matched their totals from a day earlier, but UHH’s other three scores rose during a round of 300 that left the Vulcans in second place at 17-over 593, five shots behind Grand Canyon. Chris Shimomura tied for 28th after his 80 placed him at 13-over.
Meanwhile, Kozikowski wasn’t the only Antelopes golfer who got hot.
Mark Geddes enjoyed the second-best round o f the day with a 70, and he and teammate Alec Dalhquist (73) tied for third two strokes off the pace. Liam Brace (75) finished at 9-over.
UHH still had a lot left to play for.
Tamiya said the Vulcans would make a quick turnaround before heading to regionals on May 6-8 in Olympia, Wash. The top five teams there will garner berths to the NCAA Division II tournament.
“My team doesn’t get down and bothered by this stuff,” said Tamiya, who was named the PacWest Coach of the Year. “These guys have character. We have a young team. We’ll be all right.”
Dixie State (601), Dominican (620) and BYU-Hawaii (621) rounded out the top five.