GJ native Montgomery enjoying time at RMO
For Monte Montgomery, the Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open is much more than just a golf tournament. It’s a perfect excuse to come home.
While the Grand Junction native has been making the trip every year since moving to Las Vegas in 1990 to attend the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the last couple of trips seem to have more meaning because his 17-year-old son, Taylor, has started tagging along.
“I like to come back, play some golf and have a good time,” Monte Montgomery said after carding a round of 71 at Tiara Rado Golf Course on Saturday. “It’s fun to come home and have some fun.”
A first-round 70 at Bookcliff Country Club on Friday left the elder Montgomery just inside the 36-hole cutline. The top 28 professional golfers and ties advanced to today’s final round at Tiara Rado. The professional flight begins teeing off at 8 a.m. today with the leaders hitting the course at 9:40 a.m.
And Nick Mason finds himself in a familiar position. The first-round leader followed up a blistering 64 at Tiara Rado Friday with a solid 67 on Saturday at Bookcliff. His 131 total leaves the Denver resident three stokes clear of four players.
Although Monte Montgomery, who is the director of golf at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, is a two-time winner of the Rocky Mountain Open (1992 and 1997) and has placed in the top three several times, winning isn’t what drives him anymore. Now it is more about playing with Taylor and visiting family.
The pair teamed to finish tied for third gross in the four ball tourney at 129. Ryan Hogue and Mark Bellhorn took the gross title with a score of 126 and Brad Besler and Louis Morgan took first in net score at 123.
“It’s nice to come back and get out of the (Nevada) heat,” Monte Montgomery said. “We just like to be back home and fish and have a fun week.”
But for Taylor, this week is a little more than just having fun. He is here to win.
And after rounds of 69 and 67, the high school senior is sitting only two shots behind Colorado Mesa University golfer Sean Robbins in the championship flight of the RMO’s amateur division. Robbins recorded back-to-back rounds of 67 to lead Montgomery and Keith Humerickhouse of Gypsum by two strokes.
“(Coming into the tournament) I wanted to see myself at the top,” the younger Montgomery said. “I’ve been playing a lot of golf, but I haven’t really put it together.”
But after a shaky start on Friday, Montgomery, who has verbally committed to play golf at UNLV next year, started draining putt after putt. And while he has yet to make a putt outside 20 feet, he’s confident those will start to fall, too.
“The first nine is where you have to score,” Taylor said. “The back nine, you have to play the par fives well and make your putts.”
Today’s final round is shaping up as quite the shootout.
While Mason held on to his first-round lead with a 67 at Bookcliff, the lowest scores of the tournament have been posted at Tiara Rado. In fact, the five golfers that sit atop the leader board have fired sub-70 rounds both days.
Heading into today’s play, there have been 17 sub-70 rounds carded by the pros at Tiara Rado, including a 65 on Saturday by Besler. In all, there are 20 golfers within nine shots of the lead.
“You can definitely make some birdies out there, but you can also get yourself into some trouble,” former University of Colorado golfer Luke Symons said after a round of 67 at Tiara Rado to go with a 71 Friday at Bookcliff.
Symons hit a driver to four feet on the 302-yard finishing hole and easily rolled in the putt for eagle. His eagle on two was the second made at the finishing all day and left him seven strokes back.
But he doesn’t think that means he can’t rally and win the tournament. Playing at only 6,442 yards from the back tees, Tiara Rado can be had.
“You have a wedge in your hand a lot, so you can go at the pins,” Symons said. “The problem, though, is the pins are going to be tucked and a lot of those 8-10-foot putts are going to be tough ones. Obviously, I have to be aggressive, but I can’t go out and go crazy.”