After a good night’s rest, University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Kristen Sawada felt confident going into the final round of the 2014 Pacific West Conference Championship.
Then she double-bogeyed on her first hole Tuesday at Hawaii Prince Golf Course on Oahu and shot five over on the front nine.
“After that, I knew I had to grind it out and not worry about anyone else,” Sawada said. “I just focused on myself and tried to play my own golf.”
Turns out her own golf was pretty solid as she carded a one-under on the back nine and claimed medalist honors, helping UHH claim the conference title by three strokes over Cal Baptist.
“It feels awesome, I can’t describe the feeling right now,” the junior from Mililani, Oahu said after finishing with four-over 76 and two-day 150 total to edge teammate Jade Salvador (76-75) and Academy of Art’s Crystal Wong (76-75) by a shot.
Sawada shot a 74 on Monday and carried a three-stroke lead into the final round. And then Sawada and Salvador, a sophomore out of Hawaii Baptist Academy on Oahu, led the charge as the Vulcans fought off a strong rush by Cal Baptist to claim the PacWest crown, matching the conference title that the UHH men captured last week.
The Vulcans, under head coach Jim DeMello, carded rounds of 312 and 311 to finish at 623.
Cal Baptist finished with a 626 total, followed by Academy of Art (644), Point Loma Nazarene (645), Dixie State (664), Hawaii Pacific (697), Dominican (709) and Holy Names (1045).
Sawada and her teamates were thrilled to win the PacWest title.
“We’re definitely happy that we were able to do what the Vulcan men accomplished last week,” she said. “That was our goal going into this tournament. I’m really proud of my teammates and it feels great to be conference champions.”
UHH’s Dayna Bersamin and Kacie Harada shot identical rounds of 81-80 to finish tied for 10th place at 17-over 161. Teammate Nyssa Aoki (86-82) rounded out the Vulcans’ scoring with a 168 total and tied for 20th place.
Sawada commended her teammates for their strong effort to get the job done.
“They hung in there and played really solid golf for two days,” said Sawada, who earlier this year pocketed medalist honors at the St. Martin’s Invitational.
Bersamin, from Baldwin High on Maui, Aoki, from Waiakea High in Hilo, and Harada, out of Maryknoll High School on Oahu, are all seniors.
The PacWest champion Vulcans now advance to the West Regional, scheduled May 3-7 in Mansfield, Texas.
The NCAA Division II national tournament is slated for May 13-17 at Conover, N.C.