Frustration doesn’t hold back Fruita golf team

Central High School’s Calan Hoppe eyes his putt as the ball rims the cup on the 18th green but doesn’t drop during play at the Wildcat Invitational golf tournament at Adobe Creek Golf Course Monday. Hoppe shot a 76, but said he didn’t do as well as he would have liked.

By early Monday afternoon, Fruita Monument High School golf coach Dave Fox wasn’t the picture of optimism.

His team was struggling through its round of the Wildcat Invitational tournament at Adobe Creek National Golf Course. One player had taken a 10 on a hole, another had broken two clubs, including his putter, during the round.

By the time the scores came in, Fox beamed a smile of relief. The Wildcats had won their second tournament of the season, coming on the final regular-season tournament of the year for Class 5A teams.

Fruita Monument scored a 240 to win the tournament by seven strokes over Central and Durango.

“When we started the season we had a lot of inexperience,” Fox said. “The kids hadn’t been put on the spot much.”

They adapted as the season progressed.

“They’ve worked really hard,” Fox said.

Fruita’s score was buoyed by a 3-over-par 76 by freshman Joey Saad, who tied for individual medalist honors with Central’s Calan Hoppe.

Hoppe and Saad went to a playoff to break the tie. Hoppe drove over the green on the 325-yard No. 1 Desert hole; Saad’s drive went left and out of bounds.

Hoppe then chipped to within four feet and made his birdie putt, giving him the victory.

Saad didn’t start getting serious about golf until spring break last year. That’s when his parents took him to Hawaii.

“I played three courses,” he said. “It was fun.”

After that, he began hitting the range and putting green a little bit more frequently.

“I just started practicing a lot,” he said. “I just made that commitment to shoot in the 70s.”

Saad and Hoppe posted the only rounds in the 70s on Monday, winning by five strokes over three players — Grand Junction’s Mark Stern and a pair of Durango golfers, Cody Civiletto and Dylan Gillespie.

With Ethan Grider and Ryan Keeler both carding 82s for the Wildcats, that gave Fruita Monument three of the top eight scores.

Saad and his family belong to Bookcliff Country Club.

“I’ve been playing the game for 10 years,” he said.

Because of that, “I have kind of a natural swing,” he said.

He’s working to get that swing into a routine, to make it rote.

If there was a downfall to his game Monday, it was on the greens.

“I made a bunch of putting errors,” he said.

That’s the aspect he’ll work on the most between now and Sept. 24’s Class 5A Northern Regional tournament in Boulder.

The regular season was just a dress rehearsal. State qualifying depends solely on the 18-hole regional round.

“The season tournaments prepare you for regionals,” Saad said, giving him an opportunity to work on different aspects of his game.

Class 4A teams head to the upper Roaring Fork Valley today for the Aspen Invitational at Aspen Golf Club, the site of the 4A Western Region tournament on Sept. 23.


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