Anything but a breeze
Champion holds off Saad to win CWA
The championship door had been left ajar by a Keith Humerickhouse bogey. All hard-charging Joey Saad had to do to walk through was continue the brilliance that had been his golf round through 14 holes.
But that bogey was the best possible outcome for Humerickhouse on a hole that could have gone horribly wrong. And it breathed the life into his game he needed to slam the door and bar it Sunday as he won the Colorado West Amateur golf tournament for the second time in five years.
Humerickhouse shot a 1-over-par 72 in the final round and finished the three-day tourney at 4-under 209. Saad was second at 211 after carding a final-round 67.
Humerickhouse entered Sunday with a seven-stroke lead in the championship flight, but he couldn’t get a break, and Saad could do no wrong as the Fruita Monument High School alum closed within two strokes at the turn by shooting a 5-under 31 on the back nine. The lead group started on the back nine and came in on the front nine.
“It was a grind all day,” Humerickhouse said. “I never got a feel for the speed of the greens, for whatever reason, and when I did hit good putts, they didn’t go in.
“Today was the best I hit it all week, and I scored the worst. I think I had 31 putts.”
On No. 5, the group’s 14th hole, Humerickhouse sent his tee shot into the water that guards the front of the 170-yard par-3 hole. What Humerickhouse did next was championship-saving. He took his drop and the penalty, then chipped his third shot about six feet past the pin and drained a downhill putt for bogey.
Meanwhile, Saad, who landed his tee shot about three feet from the pin, watched his putt for birdie lip out. He tapped in for par and settled for a first-place tie with Humerickhouse instead of taking the lead.
“The biggest hole for me was No. 5,” Humerickhouse said. “Having to take a penalty and getting out of there with a four, that was big. And that was a tough putt, a 6-footer downhill. That was a big putt.”
Humerickhouse breathed a sigh of relief, then started making shots that took the air out of Saad’s title bid.
On No. 6, Humerickhouse just missed a 6-foot putt, then tapped in for par. Saad, on the other hand, watched another 3-foot putt lip out, then tapped in for his first bogey of the round, which led to an audible sigh of frustration.
Humerickhouse was back in the lead for good.
On No. 7, a hole interrupted for 70 minutes by a wind storm, Saad rolled a long putt within three feet of the hole, giving him a chance at par, but his second putt skirted the edge of the cup, leaving him with another three-putt and his second bogey.
Humerickhouse also had a long first putt on No. 7, but he put his within a foot of the hole and sank the second putt for par and a two-stroke lead.
Humerickhouse and Saad each parred the par-4 No. 8. Saad left a 15-foot birdie putt four inches short, and Humerickhouse made up for leaving his second shot short of the green by chipping within a foot of the hole.
On the par-4 No. 9, Saad and Humerickhouse were about five yards apart in the middle of the fairway after their drives. Saad landed his approach shot six feet to the left of the pin, but any hope he was clinging to vanished when Humerickhouse plopped his approach shot a foot from the hole.
Both sank birdie putts, and the two congratulated each other on their great tournaments.
“He didn’t crack,” Saad said. “He knows how to play the game. I didn’t expect anything less from him.”
Humerickhouse commended Saad for playing great golf and making the final round a battle.
“The last four, five holes, it was basically a match-play tournament,” Humerickhouse said.
Saad’s final-round 67 broke a string of five straight rounds of 72 at the Colorado West Amateur and was the breakthrough he felt was coming.
“I’m happy with it,” he said. “It just proved to me that I could compete with a great player like Keith.”
Saad also left the course with a great appreciation for Humerickhouse’s game and character.
“That was fun. That was cool,” said Saad, who will be a junior on the golf team at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, in the fall. “I wouldn’t want to lose to anyone else but that dude.”
Colorado Mesa University golfer Chris Aiken placed third at 215, Kolton Kyne finished fourth at 217, and Matt Hall was fifth at 222.
The Colorado West Amateur crowned five other flight champions:
■ Jeb Savage won the first flight with a 219, two strokes better than runner-up J.P. Whitacre.
■ Dacre Williams won the second flight by 11 strokes with a 225, and Adolph Corona and Troy Whiting tied for second.
■ John Hoppe shot a 233 to win the third flight by two strokes over Mark Sills.
■ Robert Rowlands’ 249 was five strokes better than John Savage as Rowlands won the fourth flight.
■ Nick Gower shot a 251 to win the fifth flight by five strokes. Steve Costello and Brandon Burke tied for second.