Fruita Monument’s Joey Saad ready for state

Joey Saad has overcome a lot of internal pressure to earn a spot in this year’s Class 5A state golf tournament in Aurora. The Fruita Monument junior is one of six locals competing in state golf.

Joey Saad faced the same challenge many athletes are burdened with at some point in their careers.

The Fruita Monument High School golfer had to figure out how to get out of his own head.

“Before regionals I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and my inner perfectionist was coming out,” Saad said. “I was getting really mad at myself because I wasn’t hitting it like I wanted to.”

Saad, a junior, played well all season leading up to the Metro East Regional at Tiara Rado Golf Course on Sept. 20, but was still worried about being able to qualify for the state tournament.

To ease some of his nerves, Saad visited local sports physiologist Dr. Paula King before playing in the tournament.

He found the clarity he needed.

“She made a lot of sense and put things into perspective,” Saad said. “Ultimately she helped me realize that the shots I think are below average are actually average or above average.

“They aren’t that bad, so hearing that helped me not get down on myself and helped me focus.”

The visit paid off for Saad, who tore up Tiara Rado to win the regional title with an even-par 71.

The win set up a trip to the Class 5A state golf tournament Monday and Tuesday at Valley Country Club in Aurora.

Saad tees off Monday in the final group at 10:27 a.m. off No. 10.

“Joey’s done everything he can do to get ready for state,” Fruita Monument golf coach Dave Fox said. “He handled the pressure of the regional really well, and he’ll be fine.”

This is Saad’s first appearance in the state tournament, but he isn’t letting any inexperience hold him back from a strong finish to the season.

“My goal is top 10,” Saad said. “I’ve really progressed in my game, so now I have to test it.”

Teeing off earlier in the day is Central’s Chad Johnson.

The Warriors’ senior has an 8:39 a.m. tee time.

Johnson’s trip to the state tournament is hard-earned and well-deserved.

Johnson has played varsity golf for the Warriors the past four seasons and appeared to be on his way last season as a junior.

He regularly shot in the 70s during the 2009 season, and was two strokes off the lead at the turn at last year’s regional. But Johnson struggled on the back nine and missed the state tournament.

Johnson’s inconsistent play continued this season until the regional tournament, where he shot an 80 to qualify.

“Last year my regular season was good but my regionals was horrible,” Johnson said. “This year was the opposite. I haven’t played good all year, so I’m going to go in, play loose and try to finish in the top half of the field.”

Johnson’s coach, Todd Dixon, said it’s not unusual to see seniors press during the regular season.

“There is almost more pressure during the season when seniors play,” Dixon said. “But at this point I’m excited to see how he does because he has no pressure, there is nothing after this.”

The 4A and 3A state tournaments are also Monday and Tuesday. Palisade’s Kyler Smith is playing in the 4A tournament at Flying Horse Country Club in Colorado Springs.

Smith, a sophomore, shot a 79 to qualify at the Western Regional at Cobble Creek Golf Course in Montrose.

“I’ve been hitting the ball really well lately,” Smith said. “I need to have confidence in my game and not get too stressed out.”

Smith said he’s excited for the two-day format.

“It should help a lot because even if I don’t play my best the first day, you have that second day to come out and move up the chart,” Smith said. “I’m pretty anxious to see how I’m going to do.”

Smith tees off at 9:15 a.m.

Also in the 4A state tournament are Montrose golfers Drew Trujillo, Josh Derosia and Garrett Johnson.

Trujillo, a senior, finished second in last year’s state tournament.Playing in the 3A tournament at Eaton Country Club are Trey Morris of Meeker, Danny Bartels and Triston Quigley of Rifle and Dylan Walters and Douglas Mikesell of Grand Valley.


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