UHH men’s golf team seeks to steady bumpy ride

  • UHH photo UHH junior Keith Ng was the medalist at the Hawaii Pacific Shootout in his Vulcans' debut, but even he hasn't been immune to the team's topsy-turvy ways of late.

Earl Tamiya believes once his UH-Hilo golfers gets off their self-inflicted roller coaster their potential will take over and scores should level out.

It couldn’t happen fast enough.

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The Vulcans play at Western Washington’s tournament Monday and Tuesday after a ninth-place finish at Saint Martin’s tourney over the weekend.

On Saturday at Dupont, Wash., the Vuls started in sixth place, jumped to third, and took a roller-coaster dip to finish ninth in the 12-team field.

Western Washington claimed the championship team title with a 14-under 850 and Hawaii Pacific’s Keita Okada won medalist honors in a playoff.

UHH junior Keith Ng, who was the medalist at the Hawaii Pacific Shootout, finished tied for 15th out of the field of 68. His scores resembled a roller-coaster ride, a 2-over 76-66-76—218 total.

Noah Lau, a sophomore from Iolani was next at tied for 21st with a 5-over 70-76-75—221 total. Andrew Otani, a junior from Iolani who had UHH’s second-best season average (74.5) in the spring, was tied for 37th with a 10-over 76-76-74—226 total.

Dustin Franko, a junior from British Columbia like Ng and UHH’s best golfer (73.06), was next with an 11-over 76-77-74—227 total.

He landed on the All-PacWest team after helping the Vulcans to a PacWest runner-up finish last spring.

Nick Gomez, a freshman from Fountain Valley, Calif., was UHH’s last scoring golfer and tied forth 49th with a 13-over 77-74-78—229 total. He had the third-best scoring average (77.0) in the spring.

The potential is all there on paper. Franko, no relation to brothers James and Dave Franco but a fan of the their comedy, was the only UHH golfer to qualify for the NCAA Regional Tournament in the spring. Otani was the PacWest freshman of the year. Ng, a transfer from the University of British Columbia, shot a 67 to win a tourney for the Thunderbirds, an NAIA school. Gomez shot a 66 to share medalist honors at the CIF Southern Section Championships.

UHH coach Earl Tamiya sees their potential but hasn’t figured out what’s going on with his roller-coaster squad.

“Sean (Maekawa, UHH assistant) and I talked about it, and we don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “He said, ‘Did you see the scores? You better sit down before you look at the scores.’ It was a disaster he told me.

“One hole, we ended up with two triples. We do good then finish bad. If we can get away from the big numbers, we’ll be all right. It’s crazy. We had some big numbers, and it shouldn’t be. I can’t put my finger on it.”

Maybe a change of scenery will help. The Vikings’ tourney is at the Loomis Trail Golf Club in Blaine, Wash., and GolfPass gave the-par 72 course a four-star rating. There’s water everywhere, and the Vuls discovered that during a rainy practice round Sunday.

There’s good news for the golfers. The wet weather is supposed to continue through Tuesday, so shanked shots will likely stick on the grass instead of finding water.

“A long shot going into a par 4 or 5 might not have the ball rolling,” Tamiya said. “The rain is expected through Tuesday, but we’ll see what happens. I hope we can get 18 in.”

After talking about a preview, Tamiya couldn’t shake the feeling of being on a roller coaster over the weekend.

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“We’re happy, happy, then sad, sad,” he said. “It was crazy. We were up and down. I couldn’t figure it out. We’ll work on it. It was a roller coaster.

“A 77 is not bad, but it’s not good at this level. The caliber is so good, even par is not that good. If we level everything out, we’ll be all right. We have potential.”

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