When University of Hawaii at Hilo coach Earl Tamiya asked his team to shoot 10-under par on the final day of the Sonoma State University Golf Invitational, his young charges didn’t say much and then went out and accomplished the feat — winning the team title by four shots over the host Seawolves on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Calif.
The red-hot Vulcans, in claiming their second straight tournament crown, beat out 12 other NCAA teams at the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club. They carded a tournament-low 278 in the final round, while the Seawolves shot 292.
“Coach told us our goal was to shoot 10-under par and we did it,” said UH-Hilo’s Jamie Hall, who fired a final round 2-under 70 and then won individual medalist honors in a two-hole playoff. He shot 71 and 69 on Monday and finished with a 6-under 210 total.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Everyone contributed — and to get the win, it gives us so much more confidence.”
The Vulcans led team scoring with an 856 total and were followed by Sonoma State (860), UC San Diego (864), Cal State East Bay (867), California Baptist (871), Cal State San Bernardino (884), Wilmington-Del. (884), Holy Names (892), William Jessup (902), Academy of Art (902), BYU-Hawaii (905), Dominican (905) and Notre Dame de Namur (929).
Tamiya was a little emotional when talking about his team’s incredible comeback to pocket the title on Sonoma State’s home course.
“Wow, I’m really proud of the boys,” the UH-Hilo coach said. “To come from 10 shots back and win is pretty amazing stuff.
“I thought there were a couple of times when we lost it. But our guys just kept grinding away. Jamie (Hall) hit into the water on No. 17, but he rebounded for a bogey and finished with a par on 18 to advance to the playoff.”
Hall, a sophomore from Seattle, led the field by a stroke heading into No. 17.
“I pulled a 9 iron and with the wind — it drifted into the water,” said Hall, who took the one-shot penalty and then recorded his bogey. Then on 18, he drained the par putt and joined first-round leader Matt Medeiros of Sonoma State and University of San Francisco’s Emil Liljeroth. Hall and Liljeroth both had pars on the first playoff hole while Medeiros was eliminated.
Then on the second extra hole, Liljeroth missed a 20-foot birdie putt before Hall stepped up and drilled a short birdie to pocket the title.
Hall said he did what he needed to do in the playoff.
“I was more focused and fought my best,” he said, “and it worked out well.”
It was Hall’s third tournament title as a Vulcan.
But Hall wasn’t the only UH-Hilo golfer to shine on Tuesday. Junior Corey Kozuma stepped up with a sizzling 67 and finished with a 212 total, tied for fifth place.
“Corey had back-to-back bogeys to open the day, then shot 7-under par the rest of the way,” Tamiya said. “We needed that — we needed everybody to step up, and they did. It’s a great tournament win for us.”
Rounding out Vulcan team scoring were junior Chris Shimomua (81-69-71—221, T-28th), freshman Kyten Littel (73-81-70—224) and sophomore Dalen Yamauchi (77-74-74—225, T-42nd). Teammate Christian Agosto, a junior, played as an individual and shot 81-73-74—228, tying for 49th place.
Since there is no tournament leaderboard, the Vulcans didn’t know they had won until the final team tally came in.
The sophomore also said the two tournament winning streak gives the Vulcans “great confidence” heading into the Dennis Rose Intercollegiate.
UH-Hilo will host that tournament Oct. 28-30 at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course. Hall is the defending individual champion, and the Vulcans are the defending team champions.
“It would be unbelievable if we could win three tournaments in a row,” Hall said. “We’ll give it our best shot and just see what happens.”
Earlier this month, UH-Hilo claimed the team title in the GolfWeek Division II Fall Invitational in Sunriver, Ore.
The Vulcans fly back to Hawaii today, Tamiya said.