WAIKOLOA — The south has showed up in force at the Amer Ari Invitational, which teed off with its first round on Thursday at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course.
Texas leads the team competition at the prestigious event with a combined score of 9-under 279. The Longhorns are followed closely by the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma State, which sat one stroke back at 8-under.
Georgia, TCU and Texas Tech — the defending champions in Waikoloa — were another stroke back in a three-way tie at 6-under.
Texas’ reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Doug Ghim and sophomore teammate Spencer Soosman each turned in first round scores of 4-under 68 to lead the Longhorns.
Texas capitalized on the Par 5s, going 16-under as a team on those holes.
Hole No. 4 on the Kings’ Course proved to be the most generous on the day, giving up 11 eagles and 58 birdies.
Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci shot the low score of the day, a 6-under 66. He played bogey free golf in some subtle Waikoloa winds, notching an eagle on the fourth hole and four birdies.
Host UH-Hilo was in a tie for 15th place at 14-over. Warren Miller had the best day among the Vulcan golfers, rallying for a first round 1-under. Miller transferred to Hilo after playing his freshman season at Cal State Bakersfield, who dropped their program last summer. Jared Kinoshita was at 75 and Taylor Patrick shot 78.
With no golfer under par during the first round, UH-Manoa (20-over) was in last place. Waiakea graduate Trevor Hirata was at 76.
The tournament is notorious for drawing some of the top talent in the nation. Numerous PGA stars have played in Waikoloa, including Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Notah Begay.
The second round tees off today at 7:30 a.m. The public is invited to watch the free event.