It was classic fall golf in Durango when the Fort Lewis College men’s golf team hosted the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Fall Preview Monday and Tuesday at Hillcrest Golf Course.
A snowstorm at the course on Monday caused a delay of about two hours and forced the 54-hole tournament down to 36 holes. The weather also broke up the second round and created an odd finishing day that only saw about six holes played on Tuesday when there was nothing but sun and pleasant conditions.
“It was one of the weirdest golf tournaments I’ve ever seen,” said Colorado State University-Pueblo head coach Josh Koschke, whose team won the tournament. “Sun, rain, wind, cold. The guys were tough and battled. You could have packed it in (Monday) because it was pretty miserable. And it was weird today to come out and play just six holes. The guys all said it was the weirdest thing they’ve ever done.”
When the first round ended on Monday, players were sent back on the course to play as many holes of the second round as possible. Most groups played 12 holes of the second round before play was stopped for the day. Teams were sent back out Tuesday morning to finish their final six holes to conclude the tournament.
The ThunderWolves handled the conditions the best and shot a team score of 276 in the first round, which gave them a nine-shot lead. Pueblo was 13 shots worse in the second round, but the cushion from Round 1 was enough to keep the ThunderWolves in the lead for the team victory.
Pueblo finished with a total of 565, which was 3-under par and four shots clear of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in second place.
Five Pueblo players finished in the top 15.
“They did a great job and it’s fantastic to end the fall with a win in a great field,” Koschke said. “Our conference is really good in golf this year and it’s nice to get the win.”
Fort Lewis finished in a tie for seventh with Midwestern State with scores of 594. Ten teams competed in the tournament.
Colorado Christian’s Chase Carlson won the individual title with a 5-under 137.
Carlson trailed UCCS’ Colin Prater by two shots when play resumed Tuesday morning, and with a couple of holes left to play in the second round it looked as though Carlson and Prater could head to a playoff with both players sitting at 6-under. But Prater got into trouble on the par-5 17th and carded a triple bogey to fall out of contention.
“I had a good game plan. I knew I had to go out and make birdies, being two back of Colin,” Carlson said. “Unfortunately I ended with a three putt and thought I was done after that. I feel for (Prater) on his finish. He’s a really good player and I didn’t expect him to finish the way he did. But I’m also happy to get my first win.”
Prater finished two shots back of Carlson with a 139.
Matt Huntley, last week’s RMAC player of the week, led Fort Lewis with a two-day score of 142, which tied for eighth overall with Colorado Mesa’s Grant Olinger and Pueblo’s Fraser Hughes.
FLC’s Hugh Taylor shot 149, Zane Sauer posted a 150, Tyler Blohm turned in a score of 154 and Austin Lienemann fired a 156.
The Skyhawks will close out the fall season next week at the Midwestern State Invitational on Monday and Tuesday in Wichita Falls, Texas.
“As a team, every tournament is very important, especially this next tournament because there will be a lot of teams from our region there,” Huntley said. “If we have a good showing, it’ll help our rank going into the spring, which builds confidence as we go to the next tournament, which is three or four months from now.”