Levi Tichi wasn’t worried when he had two bogeys in his first three holes. He had done the same in a practice round a day earlier, and he came back just fine.
The Durango High School junior did it again Monday in the Demons’ first boys golf tournament of the fall season. After bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3, a pair of par-4s, Tichi bounced back with a birdie on the 360-yard par-4 fourth before he chipped in from 10 yards off the green on the 549-yard par-5 fifth to get under par. He continued his onslaught of Adobe Creek National Golf Club in Fruita with four more birdies and nine pars to finish the tournament at 5-under 67. That was good for a four-shot victory ahead of Grand Junction’s Carson Kerr.
“Sunday in the practice round, I was 2 over after three holes. I came out and did the same thing,” Tichi said. “In the practice round, I went 5 under through the next six holes. Being in the same situation today, I talked myself into a good mental state. I finished 3 under on the front.”
Tichi missed one other short birdie putt on the back-nine, but he felt confident with a two-shot lead going into his final two holes. He would go on to make birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to post his first competitive round in the 60s of his career.
He made a 12-foot putt for birdie on 17, and then he threw a dart at the flag on No. 18 with a gap wedge and made his 4-foot birdie putt to close the win.
“I checked the scores once on No. 12 and was one stroke up,” Tichi said. “Then, I didn’t look at it. I didn’t want to psyche myself out. But I knew on 17 and 18 that I probably had at least a two-shot lead. I had no pressure and focused on the hole and went further under par.”
After his birdie on No. 4, Tichi had all the confidence he needed. He piped a drive down the No. 5 fairway and left himself 260 yards into the green. He hit a strong 4-iron that came up just short. He grabbed his 58 degree wedge and chipped in for eagle.
“He just got it going, then chipped in for that eagle and never got in trouble the rest of the day,” said DHS head coach Kirk Rawles. “He scored really well.”
Tichi’s 67 helped the Demons finish second as a team with a score of 225. Montrose, the three-time defending Class 4A state champions, won with a 222.
Montrose’s Jordan Jennings and Jake Legg each shot 1-over 73, one shot behind third-place Josh Stouder of Fruita Monument.
Durango junior Anthony Flint shot 75 to tie for sixth. He was at 1-under after an eagle on the 486-yard par-5 seventh, but he gave one back with a bogey on No. 8 and had two bogeys on the-back nine to go with seven pars. His 75 tied with Kade Hayward of Fruita Monument.
“Anthony played really well, he just lipped out a bunch of putts and a chip, but he was right there,” Rawles said. “He had a lot of looks, he just couldn’t get them to fall in the hole. It was a solid 75 for him.”
Noah Richmond gave Montrose its third scorer, as he shot a 76. Durango senior Jacob Genualdi completed Durango’s three-player team score with an 11-over 83.
Also for Durango, A.J. Folk shot 90, while Luke Carlson shot a 93.
“A.J. and Luke are not used to playing varsity much,” Rawles said. “They were running out of steam at the end, but A.J. birdied 17, so that was great to see.”
It was the first high school sporting event for DHS since March 12 when the spring season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though football, boys soccer and volleyball have been postponed until the spring, cross-country, golf, boys tennis and girls softball will be played this fall.
“It’s fun, as a coach, to be back out there again,” Rawles said. “I didn’t get to do it last spring with the girls season. You almost forget how great it can be.”
Durango will play twice more this week with both tournaments to come in Montrose. Tichi said the Demons will be ready to try to dethrone the three-time defending state champions on their home courses. It starts Thursday at Cobble Creek and will continue Friday at Black Canyon.
“There is good competition between the two of our teams this year,” Tichi said. “We lost by three today, but we talked with a couple of our other guys, and I think we have a game plan for the next tournament in Montrose. Hopefully, we can give them a run for their money and scare them early on their home course. State champs three years in a row, they need to go down.”