Star-Bulletin Sports


Koshi holds on to lead
as OCC turns tricky

He has a 2-shot advantage
with 1 more day to play

By Jason Kaneshiro

Yesterday's pin placements for the second round of the Oahu Country Club Men's Invitational had the players who survived the cut wondering what tournament organizers will devise for tomorrow's final round.

"I cannot wait to see," said Ryan Koshi, the tournament leader after yesterday's play. "It's going to be on the fringe probably.

"It's going to be tough, guarantee. If it's sunny like this, the greens are going to turn hard and it's going to be hard to stop the ball."

Koshi shot a 1-over-par 72 yesterday to take a two-stroke lead over Todd Rego into the final round of the 39th annual tournament.

Koshi and Rego, who carded a 74 yesterday, were tied for the lead after Thursday's opening round with scores of 69.

Del-Marc Fujita also stayed within striking distance with a 74 on a day where no golfers broke into red numbers. Fujita is a shot behind Rego with a two-day score of 144.

Kevin Shimomura was the only player to shoot even-par 71 as he worked his way into contention. Shimomura is tied with Merv Matsumoto at 146 entering the final day.

Koshi's two-day score of 141 also helped Kop Distributors cruise to the tournament's team championship with a total of 586.

Koshi teamed with Brandan Kop, Wendell Kop, Clayton Gomi and Joe Phengsavath to win the team competition by 16 strokes over Pinnacle Contracting.

"At least we get one trophy already," Koshi said. "If you don't win the next one, at least you get something."

The field was sliced from 89 players to 44 yesterday with the cut placed at 156.

The hole placements, sunny skies and a steady breeze coming out of Nuuanu Valley left the players little room for error on their approach shots to hard greens. The result was the majority of players shooting higher scores yesterday than in the first round.

"They were like Sunday pin placements instead of second-day," Rego said. "The farthest it would come off the edge was about seven yards ... and it was extremely fast."

Koshi started fast, chalking up two birdies in the first seven holes. But he had trouble getting out of the bunker on the ninth hole and fell back to even-par at the turn.

Fujita overcame problems of his own on No. 13, when he hit a three-wood into the trees and ended up with a double bogey on the 438-yard par-5. But he was able to grind through the rest of the course to stay in the hunt.

"The rough is a lot higher than we've seen before," Fujita said. "When you're in the rough it's hard, because the pins are in tough places so you can't get the ball into a place where you can make an aggressive putt."

Rego also thought the course played tougher than on Thursday, but was pleased to remain close to Koshi with 18 holes left to play.

"I was just trying to keep up with Ryan," he said. "I just wanted to stay within two strokes going into the last round."

But Fujita said Koshi's steadiness may require those behind him to play more aggressively in order to catch him, depending on how the course is laid out.

"They may put (the pins) into flat spots just so everybody can have a go at it, have a lot of birdies and it might be more exciting," Fujita said. "But there's not too many places left that they can put them that are harder than what we've seen."

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