UH-Hilo sophomore Kaelyn Uchida is grateful that her younger sister is a member of her expansive support system, but the dynamic can be annoying at times.
Lacey Uchida, a Waiakea junior, is a more accomplished golfer than big sis, but it was Kaelyn Uchida who made waves Monday by grabbing the first-round lead at the Dennis Rose Intercollegiate at the Waikoloa Beach Course.
“Lacey is finally proud to have the same last name as me,” Uchida joked after firing a even-par 70 heading to second of three rounds Tuesday.
The Waiakea alum beat her previous-best score this season by seven shots, carding a career-low.
“I think the key to the improved score was my mental game,” Uchida said. “I was really relaxed, more so being paired with my longtime friend, Katherine Swor from Maui who plays for St. Martins, and with my teammate Kiri.
“My putting really surprised me today. I sunk a lot of lucky putts that saved me.”
Uchida holds a one-shot ahead of Biola’s Sami Penor (71), while Chico State’s Taylor Stewart was at 72.
“I felt that it was a big advantage (at Waikoloa),” she said. “Kings’ and Beach (courses) are like a home course to me. We practice there often.”
Biola and Western Washington are tied for the team lead after round one, both turning in a score card of 303 (+23). The top four teams are tightly bunched with Sonoma State and Concordia (Ore.) just one stroke back at +24.
The Vulcans are in seventh place at 33-over in the 10-team field, just one shot behind second place Westminster (Utah). The second-best Vulcan score behind Uchida was Michelle Kim (77), who was in 19th place.
In the men’s field at Waikoloa Kings’ Course, UHH’s Warren Miller shot an even-par 72 and was in fifth place, two strokes off the pace set by Devin Gregg of Sonoma State.
The Vuls, the defending tournament champion, were ninth of 16 teams after carding a 15-over 303. Sonoma State led at 289.
Also for the Vuls, Andrew Otani (76) and Noah Lau shot 76, Evan Merrier was at 79 and Taylor Patrick shot 80.