Kozak and Holmes shoot UBC into the lead at WWU Invitational

Conner Kozak

VANCOUVER – Leading by 12 strokes after shooting 23-under par over the first 36 holes, the UBC Thunderbirds are in good position to defend their title at the 43rd Annual Western Washington University Invitational Men’s Golf Tournament following first-day play Monday at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.

Two school records were threatened on Monday but ultimately survived.

The Thunderbirds shot the day’s best round of 15-under 273 in the afternoon after shooting 280 in the morning. The afternoon score was four strokes off the best-ever UBC round of 269, which was recorded at the 2008 University of Victoria Vikes Shootout.

Evan Holmes of Calgary and Vernon, B.C.’s Conner Kozak are one-two in medalist play at 10-under 134 (68-66) and 9-under 135 (65-70), respectively. Holmes is coming off a victory at the St. Martin’s University Invitational in Olympia, Wash., on the weekend. 

Kozak’s opening-round 65 is the second-best score ever shot by a UBC golfer. It has been accomplished seven previous times, most recently by Scott Secord at the 2014 Golf Canada Canadian University/College Championship in Winnipeg in June.

Blake Rowe-Sleeman owns the school record of 64, which he shot twice during the spring of 2008, once at the NAIA Region I Championship and then again at the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship.

Secord, a Calgary native, sits tied for ninth at 142 (73-69) and Jack Wood of Banff, Alta., is tied for 15th at 143 (75-68). Rounding out the UBC contingent is rookie Donald Qiu of Surrey, B.C., who is in 58th place at 158 (74-84).

Cal State Stanislaus is second behind UBC at 11-under 565 (285-280). Final-round action Tuesday begins with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.

– with files from Paul Madison (Western Washington Sports Information)