Course management: Saad’s improved dedication shows in first day of Daily Sentinel tournament
Joey Saad isn’t the same player he used to be on the golf course.
He’s much better.
Monday at Bookcliff Country Club, Saad shot a 1-under-par 70 during the first day of The Daily Sentinel Western Chapter Junior Championship to lead the boys 16-18 age division.
Saad is four strokes ahead of second-place Brian Grubbs heading into today’s round at Tiara Rado.
Saad is entering his junior year at Fruita Monument High School, and has spent the past couple months rededicating himself to golf.
“This is the first time I’ve taken it seriously,” Saad said. “I’ve been playing a lot of golf and it’s going pretty good.”
Since May, Saad has played in a tournament nearly every week. He said he’s shaved seven or eight strokes off of what he was shooing during last fall’s high school golf season.
“I’ve gotten more consistent in my shots,” Saad said. “That’s really been the key.”
Saad’s only 16 years old but has undeniable power out of the tee box. Saad said he tries to get a leg up on his competition by being aggressive on par-5 holes.
“I’m usually hitting 330 or 320 (yards) off of the tee and on the par-5s. That’s an advantage,” Saad said. “I’ve been able to go for the green and get strokes that way.”
This summer, Saad has been playing in more Colorado Junior Golf Association tournaments and said seeing a wider range of competition has helped motivate him.
“I’m getting into more CJGA tournaments on the (Front Range) and it’s been a good experience,” Saad said.
“I saw how hard the competition is, so this year I decided myself to step up the practice and put more dedication into it.”
Saad’s also put hard work into improving his frame of mind on the course. He added that his improved confidence has been a key to his streak of consistent play.
“During these tournaments I’ve learned how to manage the course,” Saad said. “That’s been a huge improvement.”
Not too far behind Saad is former teammate Ethan Grider, who graduated in May from Fruita Monument High School. Grider finished the first day with a 76, and said he’s gearing up for a stronger day today.
“(Tuesday’s) at Tiara Rado. Joey (Saad) plays Bookcliff all the time, not Tiara Rado,” Grider said. “I’m going to give him a run for his money.”
In the boys 14-15 age division, Clayton Crawford and Kyler Smith are tied after the first day, as both players turned in a 75. Dylan Rakowski is in third with a first-day 79.
On the girls side, Katy Dyachkova leads the 14-15 age group with an 89.
In the girls 16-18, Rachel Reiling leads Becky Gutknecht by one stroke, as Reiling shot an 85 to Gutknecht’s 86.
Today’s action begins at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at Tiara Rado.