Superior's Hill leads Sentinel Junior golf tourney by one shot
Josh Hill’s recollection of his performance in the The Daily Sentinel Western Chapter Junior Championship one year ago was short and sweet.
“I didn’t play too well,” the 17-year-old from Superior said of the annual Colorado Junior Golf Association event in Grand Junction.
This year’s tournament, on the other hand, has the potential to be something worth talking about.
Hill kept his cool down the stretch on a hot Monday afternoon and finished the first day of the Western Chapter Junior Championship with the lead in the Boys 16-18 Division. He shot a 1-over-par 72 at Bookcliff Country Club and leads Harrison Alonzo of Edwards by one stroke. Ben Robinson, who hails from The Woodlands, Texas, is third after a 74.
Several Grand Junction-area golfers remain in the hunt for the title of the two-day tournament, which concludes with a round this morning at Tiara Rado Golf Course. Troy Dangler is tied with three others for fourth place at 75; Donny Kinnaman is tied for eighth at 77; and Greg Gibson is tied for 11th at 78.
Hill, who will be a senior at Monarch High School this fall, said he was hitting his greens in regulation, which was a nice surprise.
“Lately my irons have been off,” he said. “Something started clicking today — I think I missed three greens — and my putts were rolling in.”
Hill had three birdies in the first round, including a much-needed one on par-3 No. 13, which was his second-to-last hole because of the shotgun start.
Hill bogeyed par-5 No. 12, of which he said, “I had no good shots there,” and he noticed the wind picked up as he approached No. 13’s tee box. Trying not to let the previous hole or the wind lead to another bad hole, his focus turned to finishing strong. Hill placed his tee shot on the green, 30 feet from the pin, then sank the long putt.
“I don’t know how I made that putt,” Hill said. “Just lucky, I guess.”
Well, not all luck, as he added, “It was a good read, too.”
Alonzo, who graduated from Vail Mountain High School in the spring, said his strong start was a product of “getting up and down pretty much everywhere.”
His 14 pars were proof of that, but he was close to a few more birdies than the one he settled for on No. 12.
Alonzo said his putts for birdie on Nos. 18 and 5 lipped out, and he was close to making birdie on No. 3.
Otherwise, little stood out on the first day for Alonzo.
“It was a pretty boring round,” he said, “and I’m OK with that. A boring round is a good round.”
The temperature climbed into the mid to upper 90s Monday afternoon, and Alonzo, who is accustomed to 75-degree days in the summer in Edwards, was prepared for it. He played the entire round with a wet towel around his neck.
“I get overheated really easily, and that didn’t happen at all today,” he said. “
Playing in the morning today should be a little cooler, but the players will have the challenge of a different course.
Alonzo said Tiara Rado is a harder course for him because “it requires a lot more touchy shots and exacting shots.”
Alonzo will try to keep doing what he was doing Monday.
“Fairways, greens, two putts,” he said. “Try to make it as easy as possible on myself.”
Likewise, Hill will look for more of Monday’s magic today and efficiency with his putter.
“No three-putts,” he said. “That’s my goal whenever I go into a round.”
In the tourney’s other divisions:
Zach Gomez of Westminster shot a 75 to take the Day 1 lead in the Boys 14-15 Division. One stroke behind him are Holden Kleager of Glenwood Springs and Reice Hendricks of Colorado Springs. Three strokes back in a tie for fourth is Montrose’s Glen-Michael Mihavetz.
Carbondale’s Lauren Murphy fired a first-round 74 and leads the Girls Division by three strokes over Grand Junction’s Jaclyn Murray.