Fruita Monument’s Saad has home course advantage for 5A state golf tourney

Fruita Monument’s Joey Saad is looking forward to the Class 5A state golf tournament, which begins Monday at Bookcliff Country Club. Saad grew up playing at Bookcliff and hopes the knowledge will help him to a high finish. Grand Junction’s Garret Fante and Donny Kinnaman will also be teeing off at Bookcliff.

The moment Joey Saad has looked to for more than a year now is here.

The Fruita Monument High School senior plays in the Class 5A state golf championship on his home course Monday and Tuesday at Bookcliff Country Club.

“When I found out last year state was here this year, I wasn’t looking forward to state last year; I looked forward to this year,” Saad said. “My goal is to win it. I’m going for it all year. I’m not going to sell myself short here. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. If not, then I’d like to finish in the top 10.”

Saad admitted there is pressure to succeed on the course he grew up playing, but believes he’s ready for it.

“You hear all these expectations, but you can’t satisfy anyone but yourself,” Saad said. “You just deal with it.

“I keep telling myself to play it like I have played it 100 times. Don’t put pressure on yourself and don’t do things you wouldn’t normally do. When I do that, I play my best.”

Although Saad has played the course several times, he didn’t play it as much this year after injuring his back playing basketball in the spring.

Saad had a herniated disc in his L5 vertebra when he came down from grabbing a rebound.

“Back when I was hurting I didn’t know what was going to happen, if I could swing a club,” Saad said. “In July, I started swinging and it felt OK. My back isn’t fully healed yet, but it’s tolerable.”

Despite the sore back, Saad put together a second consecutive solid season and has won more than a half-dozen tournaments, including the regional tournament as a junior.

“He keeps (state) in perspective as well as anybody I’ve been around,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “I haven’t tried to put any expectations on him. He’s got the right attitude. He’s going to go out and do his best and have fun doing it.”

Grand Junction’s Garrett Fante and Donny Kinnaman hope to make the most of their first state tournament, but for different reasons.

Fante wants to close out his high school golf career with a good showing.

“It’s been a rough three years,” Fante said. “It’s nice to finally make it. It’s been my goal since my freshman and sophomore year.”

Kinnaman, a freshman, hopes this is the first of four state tournaments.

“I wasn’t really prepared for regionals, but thankfully I played decent and qualified in a playoff,” Kinnaman said. “My game wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been. I had decent rounds. I’ve got to play better for state.”

Class 4A

Kyler Smith took advantage of playing on the course he grew up on to qualify for state for the second consecutive season.

The Palisade High School junior won the Western Regional, shooting an even-par 72 at Rifle Creek Golf Course.

“I spent a lot of time up there with my dad and grandparents,” Smith said. “It meant a lot. I was more confident I would perform better knowing the course.”

Now Smith will play the state tournament at the Pelican Lakes Golf Course in Windsor. He played there once this summer and likes the setup.

“I want to place higher than I did last year,” said Smith, who tied for 11th last year.

Montrose’ Kolton Kyne is playing in his third state tournament, but first in Class 4A.

“I’m excited to play in the 4A this year,” Kyne said. “I can win it if I play to my potential.”

The Ridgway High School senior played for the Ridgway team the past two years in Class 3A, but Ridgway dropped the golf program. By CHSAA rule, students can play at the school in closest proximity with a program not offered at their school.

Montrose coach Angelo DeJulio was happy to have Kyne.

“If he can play his game and not get in his own way, he is capable of finishing right up there,” DeJulio said. “He’s solid.”


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