(October 6, 2012)
His score didn't count toward the UBC men's golf team total, and it wouldn't have helped the TBirds finish any better than 2nd place anyway, but Conner Kozak of Vernon won his first individual collegiate championship this past Tuesday at the NAIA Fall Preview men's golf tournament in Salem, Oregon.
(Photo: Christopher Oertell)
Kozak, while playing as an individual in a field of 55, shot 3-under par (70 71--141) to top the field by three shots, the only player to break par.
"It feels great getting my first win as a T-Bird and the first collegiate win for myself and I am so pleased with the way I played this week," said Kozak, a UBC sophomore. "I can't really say I saw this coming but I've been putting in a lot of hard work and I've been seeing some good results. This whole last week I was telling myself that I need to step up my game and to get a win this week means I accomplished that."
The University of British Columbia team placed second in the 10-team field at (292-306) 22-over 598, 19 strokes behind the winning school, Texas Wesleyan (291-288).
The University of Victoria Vikes finished in fourth place (308-315--623) on the team leaderboard, 27 strokes back of Texas.
"We are really happy for Conner," said UBC head coach Chris MacDonald. "He's been putting in extra practice time at the Shaughnessy range and was rewarded. Conner has power off the tee and he controls his iron distances well; this week he played a disciplined game and took advantage of the par five's."
Kozak's performance came as a bit of a surprise to the 19-year-old since he didn't play any tournament golf all summer, instead spending his time in a classroom at UBC Okanagan with human kinetics courses.
"The last couple of weeks were a struggle," he told Kevin Mitchell, Sports Editor of the Vernon Morning Star.com. "But I put in some time in practice on the range, slowly figured things out and made things feel normal again."
"It was pretty steady," added Kozak of his performance in Salem, Ore. "I made some putts; that was the main thing, and I kept it in play. I didn't make any real long putts. They were more mid-range. I was hitting it close to the pins and giving myself that chance."
Three other T-Birds, Scott Malo (Calgary, AB), Conrado Paderes (Vancouver, BC) and Josh Zhang (Vancouver, BC), were all part of a group of golfers who tied for eighth place at 6-over, 150. First round leader Kieran Standen (Edmonton, AB) was another shot back tied for 12th place while Scott Secord (Calgary, AB) finished in 25th place at 158.
UBC has finished the fall portion of its schedule and will resume tournament play in the spring.
Sam Holland (New Minas, NS) paced UVic (75-75--150) and tied for 8th overall. The Vikes now head for San Diego where they will play the California State University San Marcos Invite at Twin Oaks golf course in San Marcos, Oct. 14 - 16.
BC Golf News in your email