Durango High School boys golfer Levi Tichi changed out his golf shoes during his round Monday at the Durango Hillcrest Open at Hillcrest Golf Club, and dramatically changed his score, as well.
The sophomore was 2-over-par through the first six holes in a new pair of shoes he bought earlier Monday, but after he switched into his old pair, he finished strong, with a 1-under-par 70 to take home the individual title.
The Demons dominated the competition and won by 19 strokes en route to the team title, shooting a 9-over 222 as a team. Piedra Vista and Montezuma-Cortez tied for second and each shot a 28-over 241. Fruita Monument was fourth with a 29-over, while Grand Junction rounded out the top five with a 30-over. Eleven teams competed at the tournament and nearly 70 golfers finished.
“I bought the new shoes and I was two-over after six, was getting some blisters and was like, ‘This isn’t working,’” Tichi said. “I switched to my old shoes, followed up with two birdies, and was actually 4-under through 13. I then made a bogey or two but finished strong, and it still feels really good.”
Tichi finished with three birdies and two bogeys. He was even-par on the front nine, and his birdie on the 17th hole put him into red numbers. He made par on the final hole to finish at 1-under.
“Last year, I shot an 81 here, and so then this year, I knew it was something I had to do,” Tichi said. “It was my worst round of the season here last year. Today, I was very frustrated very early, but I knew that once I got past the first six holes, I could turn it on. I started making some chips and putts, and I became more aggressive and being a little bit risky paid off today.”
Tichi, a sophomore, edged Piedra Vista’s Justin Harris, who took second after he shot 1-over 72, Carson Kerr of Grand Junction was third at 2-over and Nathan Smith shot 3-over to finish in fourth. Tichi’s older brother, Luke, a senior, took fifth after he fired a 4-over 75. Thayer Plewe of Cortez finished in seventh with a 5-over.
Durango’s Anthony Flint tied for eighth with a 6-over, Ethan Whidden was 11th at 8-over, while Luke Ford finished in the top-15 with an 11-over.
Durango head coach Kirk Rawles said with three golfers under 225, it bodes well for the rest of the season.
“I think Levi had a phenomenal round and is really finding his stride,” Rawles said. “The big surprise came from Luke Tichi, only because he hasn’t played as many rounds for us. Anthony Flint is steady Eddy and keeps getting that number we need. Ethan Whidden also had some good stretches today. When you’ve got four out of your top five shooting in the 70s, that’s what you hope for as a high school coach.”
The Demons will host their other home tournament of the season Tuesday, when they tee off against 10 other teams at 9 a.m. at Dalton Ranch Golf Club in Durango.