Prater wins 2nd straight Daily Sentinel tourney title
Through all the tournaments they’ve played, Colin Prater and Matt Vacek have become good friends.
The two were in the lead group on the second day of The Daily Sentinel Colorado Golf Association Western Chapter Championship for the second consecutive year.
“I’ve played with Colin a lot,” Vacek said. “He’s a lot of fun. It’s easy to focus with him in the group.”
Vacek, 17, made Prater, the defending age 16–18 champion, work for it, forcing a playoff Tuesday at Tiara Rado Golf Course.
Prater and Vacek, who were paired together both days of the tournament, had matching scores both days. They shot 70 on Monday at Bookcliff Country Club and 73 in Tuesday’s second and final round. Prater birdied the playoff hole, No. 18, to win his second consecutive Western Chapter title with a 1-over-par 143. Vacek parred the hole.
“It feels awesome,” Prater, 17, of Colorado Springs said. “I can’t wait to come back next year and defend it a third time.”
On the playoff hole, Prater said he hit a 7-iron off the tee, leaving him about 115 yards for his approach.
“I tried to smooth out a 15-degree gap wedge, and it rolled up to the pin,” he said. “It was weird, too. We had to flip a coin, and I lost. Matt chose for me to go first. I wasn’t going to try to push it. I bet if he hits driver, I hit driver, but I’ve got to play my game.”
Vacek, who placed third in the tournament last year, was pleased despite losing in the playoff.
“I feel good, because lately I haven’t played very well,” Vacek said. “I was really steady (on the front nine), but on 10, that’s what lost me the tournament. I hit a tree out of bounds. I was one down with two to go. I birdied 8. On our last hole I had a 6-footer to get in the playoff and put it right in the center (of the hole).”
William Berg nearly got in the playoff himself.
The Fruita Monument High School senior-to-be birdied his final hole, No. 9, and finished with a two-round total of 144. If Prater and Vacek would’ve bogeyed the hole, he would’ve finished in a three-way tie for first.
“I knew I needed to go pretty well to beat them,” Berg said. “I think I was down by five to each of them after nine. I made some birdies and came back.
“I made some putts. If you weren’t familiar with the course, you probably wouldn’t know it would break that way. Everything breaks down from the Monument. It’s pretty deceptive.”
Kolton Kyne of Montrose nearly put himself in playoff contention with the low round of the tournament, a 69. He placed fourth with 145.
Corey Gillespie of Durango won the boys 14–15 title with a 143. It was his first time playing the Bookcliff Country Club and Tiara Rado courses. He won by four strokes over Ben Robinson.
“I started off 3-over on the first three holes today,” Gillespie said. “Then I started sinking birdie putts. The putter was on fire. That’s all it was.”
Gillespie changed his putter a week ago, and it seemed to make the difference.
Taylor Walters, 17, of Rifle took first in the girls 16–18 field, which had 14 girls competing, the most in the tourney’s history, according to tournament officials.
Walters shot 158.
“I knew my goal was to be on top this year,” Walters said. “I don’t remember winning this tournament. I’ve only come in second. I’ve played solid both days, nothing spectacular.”
She was second last year.
Morgan Sahm, 14, of Aurora won the girls 14–15 title. She scored 150, including a 73 in the first round.
It is Sahm’s first time playing the courses in the tournament. Her grandparents, Ray and Vicki Riley, live in Grand Junction.
“I didn’t feel like I shot that well (Monday),” she said. “I had a chip-in birdie that helped.”