Sports

Top Golfers Gather for Amer Ari in Waikoloa

February 3, 2016, 7:38 PM HST
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University of Hawai'i at Hilo men's golf team. UH-Hilo photo.

University of Hawai’i at Hilo men’s golf team. UH-Hilo photo.

Ask Earl Tamiya about what he remembers in the 25 years of the Amer Ari Intercollegiate at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, and you’ll get a simple answer.

“Low scores.”

Now in his 25th season at the helm of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo men’s golf program, Tamiya is excited about the quality of golf returning to the Big Island for the annual event, which features some of the top Division I programs from around the country, as well as the host Vulcans, an NCAA Division II member, and Osaka Gakuin University from Japan.

It is normal fare to have some of the best in college golf descend on Waikoloa for the event. Top-ranked Auburn will participate, along with fifth-ranked Stanford, seventh-ranked USC, number-17 Oklahoma State, and UCLA, ranked 23rd.

In addition, the top two golfers in the country, based on scoring average, will participate. Michael Johnson of Auburn has an adjusted 68.99 scoring average, tops among the Golfstats rankings. Closely behind him is Stanford’s Beau Hossler, who averages a round of 69.46.

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The Amer Ari Invitational has seen Tiger Woods, Jordan Speith, and others compete before coming top golfers on the PGA Tour. Two-time individual co-champion Matt Kuchar, who played college golf at Georgia Tech, is a current golfer on tour. Other notable past winners include 2005 champion Anthony Kim (Oklahoma) and 1995 champion Notah Begay (Stanford).

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Don’t forget about the hosts from Hilo. While the Vulcans have never won a team or individual championship at the event, Tamiya’s squad will get a chance to see how well they can compete with some of the most talented named in collegiate golf. Seniors Kyeton Littel, Casey Tamura, and Ric Yamamoto highlight UH-Hilo’s squad.

Through the fall season, the Vulcans failed to earn a top three finish in each of their tournaments, but sophomore James Coon had the best individual finish of anyone on his team, closing in a tie for fifth place at the St. Martin’s Invitational in September.

Tournament play begins each day at 7:30 a.m., beginning with the opening round on Thursday. The final round will be played on Saturday.

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