Owaki grabs lead in Costa Mesa City Championship

COSTA MESA - Shortly after shooting a sensational round, Ricky Owaki took out his phone to take a photo of his score on the board at Costa Mesa Country Club Saturday.

Owaki, 21, then posted his picture on Twitter.

"Club house leader for now … #7under #lessgo," Owaki wrote with the photo.

Owaki, who shot a seven-under-par 63 on Mesa Linda, hopes to take another photo Sunday, posing with the hardware for winning the 41st annual Costa Mesa City Championship at Costa Mesa Country Club.

Owaki's impressive round, which featured nine birdies, earned him the top spot after the first of two rounds of the championship flight. He has a two-shot lead headed into Sunday's final round on Los Lagos. He will start at 1:40 p.m.

Former Estancia standout Marcus Sostak, along with Court Lewis and former pro Robert Caton each shot 65.

Andrew Levitt is three shots back of the lead after his 66.

Lyon Lazare, the defending champion, as well as Jordan Guillen and Ryan Barry each carded a 67.

Owaki nearly distanced himself further as the leader, as he said he missed at least four makeable birdie putts, each from within 12 feet. He missed two putts for birdie from within six feet. He also had two bogeys, including one on the par-5, 466-yard No. 11 hole.

"I was feeling it today," said Owaki, who will be a senior at Chico State, where he is on the golf team. "I really didn't miss a fairway. I hit it right down the middle. Anything inside 115 yards, I was hitting my wedges basically perfect and getting it really close."

Getting it close to the cup was challenging for the players because of the tough pin placements. Owaki described some of the holes as borderline illegal.

During play Saturday morning, tournament director Sean Collins heard several gripes about the pin placements.

"Music to my ears," the Orange Coast College men's golf coach told one of the players.

"Everybody loves tough pins until they play in them and they realize, 'Wow this course is a little bit different than I'm used to seeing,'" Collins said. "We put them in different places, different from last year, based on there has been some work done to the golf course, as far as the bunkers. We worked on the bunkers and made them look a lot better. With that being done, I can't hide [the pins] behind those bunkers anymore. We put them behind some nice ridges and some nice slopes."

Collins figured the low score for Mesa Linda would be 65. He was thoroughly impressed with Owaki, who achieved his career low in competitive play.

"I thought I made it hard enough to where there wouldn't be a 63," Collins said. "But there it is again. What do you do? The kid must've played really well … That's impressive because I put [the pins] in some hard spots. Hats off to that kid."

Owaki said he carried over momentum from Friday, when he paid to enter the tournament. He shot seven-under on Los Lagos, during a practice round and his first time on the course. Owaki was invited to play in the Costa Mesa City after hearing about it from a friend, Jem Young, who plays for Orange Coast College.

Owaki had played against each other in the same league when they were in high school, Owaki at Esperanza and Young at Marina.

Lewis, 18, recently graduated from Servite. He is headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also said the position of the flagsticks were challenging. Yet he was able to finish with five birdies and an eagle.

He eagled the par-5, 485-yard No. 5 hole.

"They were tough, really tough," Lews said of the pins. "You really had to place all your shots in the right area. There were a lot of areas that if you were in the wrong spot, you could hit a bad shot and make bogey."

Lazare rolled in a putt from 40 feet out for eagle on the par-5, 482-yard No. 14 hole.

"It was the best putt of the day for me," said Lazare, a former OCC golfer who played at Chapman, where he recently graduated from. "The pin [on 14] was basically illegal. It was on the slope. I hit it and it was like a mini golf shot because it went up and came back down toward the hole.

"You just had to place it in the right spot," he said. "It's all about hitting it in the right spot, when you play in the Costa Mesa City."

Ed Susolik, a five-time Costa Mesa club champion who was featured in the Daily Pilot Saturday, was one of seven who shot even.

Ryan Knapp, who played at Estancia and OCC and is now at UC Irvine, shot 75. He was last year's runner-up and also finished second in 2009.

Final-round play will also take place in other flights Sunday including first flight, second flight and senior flight.

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