From Tiger Woods to Jordan Spieth to Matt Kuchar, the Amer Ari Intercollegiate has hosted myriad players through the years who have gone on to professional stardom.
With that in mind, remember the name David Puig.
Thursday’s conditions were improved at Hapuna Golf Course, and that didn’t give the field much of a chance against the Arizona State sophomore, who closed with a second consecutive 4-under 68 and his second victory in as many weeks.
“That boy is good,” said UH-Hilo coach Earl Tamiya, who has witnessed all 30 Amer Ari tourneys. “He’ll make it on the PGA Tour.”
Puig overtook teammate and second-round leader Blake Wagoner with four birdies on the front nine, and he birdied Nos. 14-17 to cruise to a four-stroke win at 13-under for the 54 holes. Last week at the Southwestern Invitational, the Spaniard pocketed his first collegiate victory by a tournament-record nine strokes.
Wagoner (73) and Southern California’s Sixian Guo (71) tied for second at 207, and Ryggs Johnston (69) was another shot back in fourth for the 12th-ranked Sun Devils, who took the team title at 37-under, finishing 12 shots clear of USC. Oregon State and Georgia Tech tied for third at 10-under.
Led by solid finishes from Dustin Franko (71), Andrew Otani (71) and Nicholas Gomez (72), UH-Hilo bettered its previous round’s total by 33 strokes, and it was enough to overtake Hawaii for seventh place in the eighth-team field.
“All we wanted was to get the kids on the right track, and I think we did that,” Tamiya said. “We just need to find our 4-5 golfers.
“The weather was a lot better. It was like a hurricane (Wednesday).”
Franco, a junior, barely missed out on finishing in the the top half of the 51-player field, leading the Aloha State contingent at 6-over. Freshman Isaiah Kanno, a former Waiakea standout, closed with a 75 and led the way for UH-Manoa at 11-over. Otani was another shot back along with the Rainbow Warriors’ Kotaro Murata (75).
“Dustin doesn’t get rattled,” Tamiya said. “He’s a cool, calm and collected player.”
Also for UHH, Hilo High alum Ethan Hironaga (81) finished 29-over, Noah Lau (88) was 35-over and Willis Lee (85) came in at 48-over.
The Vulcans’ next tournament is Feb. 20-21 at Oahu’s Pearl Country Club.