UC Irvine, Smith lead Big West championships

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Ramiz Jamal of the University of California at Irvine blasts out of the bunker near the ninth green at Wailua Golf Course Monday during the first round of the Big West Conference Championships.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Tanner Podres of California Polytechnic Institute watches his approach drop on the ninth green at Wailua Golf Course Monday during the first round of the Big West Conference Championships.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Zach Smith of the University of California at Santa Barbara is the clubhouse leader after two of three rounds of the Big West Conference Championships after firing a 4-under 68 in round one (place second-round score here) Monday at Wailua Golf Course.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Brandon Jacobs of the University of California at Santa Barbara follows his approach to the ninth hole at Wailua Golf Course Monday during the opening round of the Big West Golf Championships.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Matt Lloyd of the University of Hawaii studies the ninth greens at Wailua Golf Course Monday during the opening round of the Big West Golf Championships.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jonathan Kang of the University of California at Irvine follows his approach shot to the ninth green at Wailua Golf Course Monday during the opening round of the Big West Golf Championships.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Anthony Truong of the University of California at Irvine comes out of the bunker on the ninth hole of Wailua Golf Course during the opening round of the Big West Golf Championships Monday.

WAILUA — Just three strokes separate fifth through seventh places following the completion Monday of two of three rounds of play at the Big West Conference Championships at Wailua Golf Course.

The final round is today with the first groups teeing off from 12:30 p.m. at holes one and 10.

The host University of Hawaii sits in sixth place with 599 strokes after its leaders Justin Arcano and Matt Lloyd finished tied for eighth with a 54-hole total 146. Arcano, firing a two-over 74 in the opening round, eagled the first hole to open his second round. He picked up three birdies to finish the second round at even par.

Lloyd sizzled through round one with a three-under 69, and picked up a birdie in the second round to end at five-over 77. Other Hawaii golfers on the team include Cameron Kaneko (78-75-153), Justin Nagan (77-79-156) and Nickolaus Nelson (85-77-162).

Hawaii’s sixth place is a stroke better than California State University at Northridge, which finished the day with 600 strokes, led by Tomas Skajem, who fired a 54-hole 147 (72-75) for 11th place.

As the sun set, the University of California at Irvine leads the tournament with a 54-hole total of 586, led by Matt Gunson firing a 54-hole total 143, including a three-under 69 in round two to end the day tied for second place with Matt Wilson of CSU-Fullerton.

Zack Smith of UC Santa Barbara fired a four-under 68 in round one to tie Jonathan Kang of UC Irvine for the lead. During the second round, Smith faltered to fire a two-over 74, but retained the overnight lead at 142. Kang slipped to a five-over 77 in round two and is chasing Smith by three strokes at 145.

Top seed in the tournament is California State University at Fullerton, followed by the University of California at Davis, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, California Polytechnic Univesity, Hawaii, UC Riverside and CSUN.

Defending champion is UC Irvine, which captured its eighth Big West regular-season title before these championships.

This is the first time the UH men’s team is hosting the Big West Conference Championships. Wailua Golf Course plays to a par 72, over 6,991 yards.

The last time Hawaii hosted a conference tourney was in 2009 when it hosted the Western Athletic Conference Championship at the Rio Secco Golf Club in Las Vegas. Hawaii hosted the 2002 WAC Championship at the Turtle Bay Resort’s Fazio Course on the North Shore of Oahu.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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