Wind sends scores soaring in second round of RMO
When the last four pros walked off the 18th hole at Tiara Rado Golf Course on Saturday, there was no movement in the trees. You’d have to blow on a leaf to get it to move.
That was after an afternoon during which some golfers wondered how any trees still had foliage.
The wind blew, and the scores blew up in the afternoon, bringing the leaders back to the pack after the second round of the 75th Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open golf tournament.
Five players shot 6 under par or better during Friday’s first round at Bookcliff Country Club. Each played in the afternoon Saturday at Tiara Rado. None of them shot par.
First-round co-leaders Gunner Wiebe and Ryan Hogue went from 8 under to start the day to 5 under and 3 under after shooting 3 over and 5 over, respectively.
That allowed Montrose’s Brandon Bingaman, who graduated from Colorado Mesa University in May, to climb from 13th place to third place during his professional debut. Bingaman, Jim Knous and Wiebe are tied at 137 strokes, two behind leaders Monte Montgomery of Henderson, Nev., and Ryan Hietala of Boise, Idaho.
Bingaman was a rarity Saturday, shooting 3 under, and only three others in the field of 78 pros matched it: Montgomery, Hietala and Colby Myers of Gilbert, Ariz. All had one thing in common: They teed off before 9 a.m.
Bingaman acknowledged he was lucky to draw a morning tee time. There was some breeziness during his round, but not the gusts that greeted the pros who unfortunately teed off at noon or later.
“That was nasty,” Bingaman said of the wind.
“Brutal” was Richard Gaona’s term for it. The Mesa, Ariz., resident shot even par in the afternoon, a score that was bettered by one pro who teed off in the afternoon: Knous at 2 under.
“The wind was howling, and it was drying out the greens,” said Gaona, who is tied for sixth at 4 under going into today’s final round at Bookcliff. “The greens were lightning fast.
“It was gusting out there. Tough challenge. Even on the greens, the wind affected your putt. I made a lot of putts today for par to save myself.”
Montgomery, a two-time RMO champion, said he was lucky to avoid the afternoon wind, but no one escaped the pin placements.
“That’s just all weather and pins,” Montgomery said of Saturday’s higher-than-normal scores. “Pins were pretty much borderline unfair.”
Even though his 68 at Tiara Rado looked good, Montgomery added, “That’s about as bad as I could’ve played.”
A 1998 Grand Junction High School graduate, Montgomery said he benefitted from growing up in Grand Junction and knowing the course, even though he joked about how much Tiara Rado has changed from his younger days.
“We used to call Tiara Rado ‘The Rock,’ ” he said. “Now, it’s ‘The Sponge.’ “
Montgomery will be rooting for his son to join him as a champion today. Taylor Montgomery, an incoming freshman at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, leads the amateur field by two strokes. Taylor matched his father Saturday with a 68 to put his two-day total at 140.
“Taylor’s a great player,” Monte said. “He hasn’t learned how to minimize his mistakes. He has 13 birdies and an eagle, and he’s only 2 under par.”
Still, dad says his son is a better player at age 18 than he was, and he wants to see Taylor do well today, but not too well.
“There’s one thing you should know about me,” Monte said. “If I win, I’m gonna gloat. I want to kick his (butt), just like he wants to kick my (butt).”
Taylor, who contended for the amateur title last year at the RMO, got the better of Monte last year. He couldn’t recall where he placed, but he said, “All I know is I beat my old man.”
Taylor finished fifth last year and shot 211 to Monte’s 214.
If not for a double-bogey and a bogey on his final two holes Saturday, Taylor said he’d be two strokes behind his dad.
Monte thinks scores will come back down today.
“It all depends where they put the pins,” he said. “Bookcliff is the place to score. That’s for sure. You can attack the par-fives. The key tomorrow will be the par-fives.”
Bingaman also expects scores to come back down.
“Bookcliff is going to be a scoring fest,” he said. “It’s going to be who gets the most birdies and keeps it together at the end. It should be really fun.”
A number of golfers with area ties will try to reel in Taylor Montgomery for the amateur title. Colorado Mesa assistant golf coach Scott Sullivan is in second at 142. Fruita’s Chase Wortmann and Montrose’s Drew Trujillo are tied for third at 143. Colorado Mesa’s Sean Robbins, Grand Junction High’s Donny Kinnaman and Fruita’s Chris Berg are part of a four-way tie for fifth at 144.