Birdies were hard to come by on a day bogeys were had aplenty.
It was a challenge all day Monday for players at the 4A Region 1 golf championship at Desert Hawk at Pueblo West golf course. Only Reese Knox of Falcon was able to break par, as he shot a 3-under 69 for a six-shot victory.
Noah Keller of Coronado shot a 3-over 75 to take second place. Durango’s Levi Tichi, who played his final four holes at 1 under and his last seven at even par, was able to take third with a 4-over 76. He birdied two of the par-5s but had a double bogey on the par-5 11th.
“I actually played pretty good,” Tichi said in a post-round interview with Dan Mohrmann of CHSAANow.com. “Hole 11, I hit a pretty good driver over the tree and my second shot, I was trying to go for (the green) in two, I pushed my ball a little bit right and it hit off a tree and went out of bounds. So, that kind of cost me two strokes right off the bat. It was good to come back from that I guess.
“The greens are pretty hard. They’re small and a lot faster, I think, than you think. ... Sometimes, the grass over the green is a little bit different. Finding where to chip the ball, there’s different soft spots and hard spots in the green. Once I figured that out, it was a lot easier to play.”
As a team, Durango High School placed fourth with a three-player total of 260. Tournament host Pueblo West won on its home course with a 245, and Falcon was second with a 248. Coronado placed third with a 255. Durango was 13 shots in front of Pueblo Centennial to take fourth in the 14-team tournament.
Anthony Flint joined Tichi as a state qualifier. He didn’t record a birdie and posted a 15-over 87. Still, on a very challenging day, Flint didn’t need to break 80 to secure a spot at state. He tied for 11th and got into state with a three-shot cushion.
“It was tough to read the greens,” DHS head coach Kirk Rawles said. “If you weren’t in the right spot, you didn’t know if it was uphill, downhill, broke left or broke right. That was the biggest adjustment for Anthony. It was his worst putting performance of the year,a nd he’s such an excellent putter.”
AJ Folk gave Durango it’s third scorer. He tied for 26th with a 97. It wasn’t the day Durango’s lone senior, Jacob Genualdi, had hoped for. He shot a 103 to tie for 37th.
Durango will now have time to prepare for the CHSAA Class 4A State Golf Championships. Originally scheduled for Eisenhower Golf Course at the Air Force Academy, the tournament has now been moved to Oct. 5-6 at Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
“I’ve never played it,” Tichi said of the state course. “I’ve been struggling kind of with putting most of this year, but I putted pretty good (Monday). Hopefully, the Country Club will be a little easier for my game, easier to get up and down.”
Rawles is familiar with the course after coaching the DHS girls team at state there previously. It features blind tee shots, water trouble, hills in the fairways and lots of long rough.
“Cheyenne Mountain is one of the best teams in the state, and now they moved state to their course,” Rawles said. “That makes it a bit tougher. But we have two guys who are fun and exciting to coach. We will work on a few things and play a few practice rounds for it, and I think these guys will be ready to play some pretty good golf.”