Jared Kinoshita, a four-year starter, is the only one missing from the UH-Hilo men’s golf team, but he’ll back with the program as an assistant coach.
Kinoshita had a career scoring average of 74.25
“That’s tough to replace,” coach Earl Tamiya said in a news release. “But this team has a ton of potential. They are very talented. They have shown that they can score low. They just have to do it on a consistent basis.”
Senior Patrick Taylor has been the No. 2 golfer for the past three seasons. Last year, he posted a 75.54 scoring average and finished second at the Dennis Rose Invitational. Senior Warren Miller had a 76.42 scoring average.
“Those two are poised to have a great year,” Tamiya said. “Hopefully, they can step out of Jared’s shadow and have their best year yet.”
Sophomore Andrew Otani got better as the year went along, saving his best for the PacWest championships. He ended the tournament tied for fourth at 1 over and took home the conference freshman of the year trophy.
“Andrew could be a big-time player for us,” Tamiya said. “He came to us basically unrecruited by anyone else. He has really developed and can be even better.”
The Vulcans open the season at the St. Martin’s Invitational, slated for Friday-Saturday, and at the Western Invite Sept. 23-24 at Bellingham, Wash.
Junior Evan Merrier will play at No. 4 on the road trip, and sophomore Noah Lau will play No. 5 but juniors Adam Chiya and Colton Servis and freshman Nicholas Gomez will vie for playing time.
After the Washington trip, UHH returns home and hits the road at the Concordia Invitational in Portland, Oct. 7-8. Two focal points of the year follow: the Dennis Rose at Waikoloa Oct. 28-30 and the Amer Ari Intercollegiate Feb. 6-8.
The Dennis Rose will feature 17 top NCAA Division II teams, while the Amer Ari is annually a collection of the best Division I college teams in the country.
“The Amer Ari is already one of the best Division I tournaments in the country,” Tamiya said. “We want to make the Dennis Rose one of the best D-II tournaments around. Having 17 teams this year is our largest field ever.”
This year, the Vulcans are hosting the PacWest tournament on their home course at Waikoloa.
“It is big time for us to be able to host,” Tamiya smiled. “Our goal is to win, to give us the automatic qualifier to the west region tournament. We haven’t won since 2014, and we have the team to do so this year, especially on our own course.”
With Gomez being the only newcomer on the squad, all members of the team know each other well. That can work in two different directions, but Tamiya insists it is working for the positive. “They are very close,” he said. “We have had great bonding opportunities this fall. Let’s hope that translates to low scores on the course.”
In addition to Kinoshita, Tamiya’s assistant coaches all have UH Hilo ties — Troy Tamiya, Anson Arakaki and Kevin Ginoza.
“This is a great group and makes my life a lot easier,” said the head coach, who is somewhere near his 30th season as the program leader. “I am grateful to them for all that they do, along with all of the many volunteers that make this program go.”
Vuls 8th at True North
UHH sophomore Kaelyn Uchida finished 13th at the True North Classic in Richmond, British Columbia while the Vulcans placed eighth on Tuesday.
Uchida finished at 13 over (77-80), 13 shots behind the winner. Carli Shimokihara was next at 18 over (77-85).
UHH next plays the St. Martin’s Invitational in Olympia, Wash. Oct. 4-5 and the Concordia Invite in Portland Oct. 7-8.
UHH’s third finisher was Taryn Taguma 82-86, followed by Michelle Kim 83-86, Kiri Oshiro 84-89, and Keely Kitamura 88-90.