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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 25, 2002

2 will represent Hawai'i at Pacific Coast tourney

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By Bill Kwon

Pac-10 golf champion Jim Seki of Stanford will be playing in the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship for the fifth straight year Aug. 3-6 at the San Diego Country Club, but this time without his former Punahou School partner Parker McLachlin.

Jim Seki, shown here en route to his victory at the Navy-Marine Invitational four years ago, won the Pac-10 championship this past season.

Advertiser library photo • May 1998

McLachlin, who has played in the event the last two years, had to withdraw because of a wrist injury.

Seki and Matthew Kodama, a University of Hawai'i junior, will represent Hawai'i in the 72-hole event.

"We'll go with just the two players," said Dr. Richard Ho, team captain and an official with the Hawai'i State Golf Association. "We weren't able to find a replacement for Parker. He thought his injury would heal, but it didn't. It's a shame."

Part of the difficulty in getting a replacement is the cost of the trip. The players only get $300 for expenses. It helps that Seki and Kodama are spending the summer on the Mainland.

Besides individual stroke play, there is also a team competition for the Morse Cup, the format calling for the combined best two out of three individual scores each day. With only two players, it will be difficult for Hawai'i to challenge for that trophy.

Hawai'i's best team showing came in its first appearance in 1987 when Larry Stubblefield, Les Uyehara and Wendell Tom finished seventh out of 16 teams.

Still, Seki and Kodama, a native of Spokane, Wash., are looking forward to playing the San Diego Country Club, which hosted the 1964 U.S. Women's Open and the 1993 U.S. Women's Amateur.

"It should be fun. It always means a lot to be asked to represent Hawai'i," said Seki, who first played in the PCAC in 1998 when, as a Punahou junior, he won the state boys championship.

He remembers being extremely nervous the first time around, competing with collegiate players. This time, he's playing with a little reputation of his own — Pac-10 champion, winning the individual title with a 72-hole score of 284 at Corvallis, Ore.

"It sounds good but that's all in the past," said Seki, well aware of the vagaries of golf. He didn't qualify for the NCAA championship that followed.

"I played bad in the regionals," said Seki, who'll be a senior this fall.

Still, no one can take away his Pac-10 crown.

Seki rode an opening-round 66 to his victory, but he needed a birdie-birdie finish the last two holes of the final round to pull it off.

"It was weird. I made a few mistakes and I thought I was out of it. It's the first time I've ever been in the lead in a collegiate event," said

Seki, who chipped in from 20 yards on the 72nd hole for the victory.

On course for a degree in economics, Seki is still interested in turning pro some day. "The PGA Tour? That's the ultimate goal," he said.

Warrior gets a slot

Kodama, who is playing in several tournaments in Spokane, has proved a great addition to the UH golf team, according to his coach Ronn Miyashiro.

"He had the best scoring average and the best finishes for us," Miyashiro said. "He has the length and the game. I expect a lot of big things from him, golf-wise."

Kodama's selection is in keeping with Ho's aim of picking a deserving UH player every year. "It's the first year we could do it. I hope it can be every year," Ho said.

If Hawai'i isn't in the running for the team title, Ho hopes that either Seki or Kodama can pull off a top-10 finish. The best showing by a Hawai'i player is 11th place — by Stubblefield in 1987 in Seattle and Tony Okano last year at Flagstaff, Ariz.

Ho plans to submit a bid to host the tournament in 2005 or 2006, possibly at the Turtle Bay Resort. He should find no problem coming up with three players, if that happens.

Hawai'i has hosted the event twice — Kapalua Bay in 1992 and the Makena Resort, also on Maui, in 1997.

"Everybody wanted to go then," Ho said when Makena was the host site.

In 1994 and 1995, Guy Yamamoto was the only Hawai'i player in the PCAC on a special invitation as the National Men's Amateur Public Links champion.

Golf plans on hold

McLachlin's injury also put on hold plans of playing on the Australian and Asian tours.

"My left wrist is bothering me. I'll probably have to have surgery," said McLachlin, who thinks it's the result of an old injury. He broke his wrist as a sophomore in a high school volleyball game.

"The scar tissue must have calcified. I took three cortisone shots but really couldn't practice. I was practically playing one-armed golf the last four months."

It's a bummer of a summer for the outgoing captain of the UCLA golf team.

"At least I got my degree," said McLachlin, who graduated last month with a degree in sociology.

Bill Kwon can be reached at bkwon@aloha.net