“Putting” Their Way to Success
By Larissa Tawata, Sports Writer
Both UH Hilo’s men’s and women’s golf teams will be one of few with the luxury of being able to travel all around the world to places such as Washington, Oregon, California, Maui, and Japan for golf.
“With the help of Coach Earl [Tamiya], we are able to travel all over and participate in a good number of Division I and Division II tournaments,” states Senior Captain Corey Kozuma. The UH Hilo men’s golf team is the only Hawaii based team in their Division II conference that travels to the mainland to compete in various golf tournaments.
The men’s team is has a total of 10 members (9 are local boys and 1 from Ginowa, Okinawa). The traveling team is composed of 5 local boys, Daylen Yamauchi who attended Waiakea HS (Hilo), Christian Agosto who attended Moanalua (Honolulu), Corey Kozuma who attended Iolani (Honolulu), Keyton Littel who attended Kamehameha Maui (Kahalui), and Chris Shimomura who attended Lahainaluna (Lahaina). It seems to be a trend that there is an increase of local talent for the men’s team each year. It’s not often that you see a team composed of 90% of local boys.
Unlike most of the other sports here at UH Hilo, golf is year round, and training and practices are intense and very time consuming.
Last year the men’s team was successful in their seasons. The men’s team placed 11th in the nation and were 1 stroke away from competing in the NCAA regionals.
So far, the men’s golf team has traveled to Bellingham, WA to compete in the Western Washington International and to Bend, OR for the Golfweek Invitational placing 6th in both. When asked about the season so far, junior Nicholas Matsushima stated: “This season we got off to an okay [start], not good but not bad, a less desirable start, but we are training hard for our next tournament[s] – especially the one coming up next week.” Next week, UH Hilo Vulcs will be hosting the Dennis Rose Invitational in Waikoloa on Oct. 27-29.
An exciting tournament that the men’s team looks forward to is the Amer Ari Intercollegiate hosted in Feb. 2014 by UH Hilo in Waikoloa. The Division I tournament is known to be the 3rd best in the country and brings in the top teams to compete, including University of Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, and University of Washington.
Another tournament that the men’s team will be competing in is the Osaka Gakuin Invitational in Osaka, Japan, which will be held during spring break. “Being able to travel all over including Japan is all because our coach has connections so we get invited to a lot of tournaments,” Kozuma said.
“Many think of golf (a)s an individual sport but the feeling of not wanting to let your friends [teammates] down just adds to the team bonding not only in practice and tournaments but also off the golf course,” Nicholas Matsushima said.
Last year, the women’s golf team placed 4th in their division and continue to succeed. This year, there are 8 members of the golf team (7 local girls and 1 from Tokyo, Japan). We were unable to obtain a source from the women’s team however, word around campus and backed by their website (http://hiloathletics.com/index.aspx?path=wgolf), the women’s golf team is currently undefeated in the NCAA Division II West Region conference after placing 2nd in the Western Washington Invitational, putting them in the number 1 position for their conference.