The Durango High School boys golf team recovered well after a tough opening nine holes at the first day of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 4A state tournament Monday at The Bridges Golf Course in Montrose. The Demons sit in fourth place as a team, after they fired 24-over 237 par in the opening round.
Montrose, the two-time defending champions and hosts, hold a 14-stroke lead after the Indians shot 4-over 217, Pueblo West is in second at 18-over and Windsor is in third at 21-over.
“Our second nine was drastically different than our first nine holes,” said DHS head coach Kirk Rawles. “Our first nine, the three scores that we counted were 24-over. After 18 holes though, we were still 24-over. The second nine, we played even as a team. I think we just didn’t get out of the gate very well. We’re going to take our last nine and channel that into tomorrow.”
Levi Tichi had a strong round after he fired a 3-over 74 for the day, which is tied for seventh-place overall. The sophomore recorded two birdies and made 11 pars, and was able to keep out of penalty-stroke trouble for the majority of his round.
“Levi had an exceptional round today,” Rawles said. “He actually left a few strokes out there today and could have played closer to even par. For a sophomore to have a day like he had, it was awesome. He found his stride, and I hope he can continue it tomorrow.”
Ethan Whidden was the second-best golfer on the day for DHS, after he shot a 5-over 76, and is tied with eight other golfers in 10th. The senior, who took 10th a season ago at state, got off to a slow start after he opened the round with five bogeys, but recovered well to finish at 5-over 76.
Whidden got to three-over late on the front nine, but ended with a tough double-bogey on 18. On the back nine, he made two clutch birdie putts, No. 4 and No. 8 that kept him in the top 15.
“Ethan was just trying to get his rhythm going,” Rawles said. “He was five-over after five, but ended at five-over. I think once he started getting going, that helped us out.”
Luke Tichi had the biggest change in score from his opening drive to his final putt of the day. The senior fired a 16-over 52 on his first nine holes, but shot a 35 to finish the day with a 16-over 89. He made five pars and recorded two birdies on the back nine, including one on his last hole of the afternoon.
“I asked Luke what the difference was between shooting a 52 and 35, and he told me that the holes started to suit his eyes a little bit better,” Rawles said. “He focused on hitting fairways and greens, and I was super proud of the way he fought back. The Bridges is tough, and if you’re not hitting it straight, there are hazards on every hole. That was Luke’s experience for the first nine.”
Rawles said he is hopeful to have more success on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of the guys for turning it around,” Rawles said. “We’re a couple strokes out of second and third, but there are also a few teams that are right behind us. We’re going to put our best efforts into tomorrow and hopefully we can climb up into second place.”