The record will show the University of Hawaii at Hilo men’s golf team shot a 12-over 296 in its final round of the season. But in coach Earl Tamiya’s eyes, the Vulcans finished par for the course.
Tamiya said UHH accomplished its three goals this season — winning the Pacific West Conference, reaching regionals and qualifying for the NCAA Division II championships, where it ended up 13th Wednesday in Allendale, Mich.
And in some ways, the Vulcans overachieved.
“Too tell you the truth, I didn’t expect much from this team at the beginning of the season,” Tamiya said. “They came up big at times and matured a lot.”
Led by senior Chris Shimomura’s 1-over 72 and an improved showing by senior Christian Agosto, the Vulcans closed with their best score under pristine morning conditions at The Meadow Golf Course. But the damage had been done a day earlier during a 308 in the second round, and UHH was 12 strokes from qualifying for the quarterfinals.
“As a whole, (Wednesday) was easier and the score showed that,” Tamiya said. “It was tougher Tuesday, and we just played a bad round. We should have played better. That was a disaster.”
Junior Dalen Yamauchi and senior Corey Kozuma each carded 75s. Yamauchi tied for 25th at 10-over, while Kozuma and Shimomura were 14-over in a tie for 52nd in the 108-player field. Agosto (74) was 19-over, and for the third consecutive round sophomore Kyeton Littel (84) failed to crack the top four for UHH and was a non-scorer. He was 34-over.
The contributions of Kozuma and Shimomura will be the hardest for Tamiya to replace, but he said the positive momentum the program has built with two runs to the nationals in four years has been a boost for recruiting.
According to Tamiya, the Vulcans have signed four players for next season, and each is from the mainland.
“We have so many emails and letters coming in from players, we just have to pick and choose,” Tamiya said. “We have good choices.”
He added with a chuckle, “Hopefully the seniors got stronger physically and a little smarter mentally.”
Florida’s Nova Southeastern (863) continued to be the class of the field, earning the top seed in match play with a 14-stroke advantage ahead of Barry.
Florida Southern’s Tim Crouch took the lead with a birdie on No. 17 and turned in a 68 to claim the championship at even-par.
The other six teams to advance were Chico State, Central Missouri, Malone, Lynn, California State-Monterey Bay and Indiana (Pa.).