Hot hat: Panama-style cap lifts Blair in golf

Fruita Monument High School boys golf coach Dave Fox finally figured out how to motivate Ryan Blair.

His junior golfer, who began the season on the cusp of playing varsity, had been in a slump after last Wednesday’s Steamboat Springs Invitational.

With the team staying in the north-central portion of the state for the next day’s Moffat County Invitational in Craig, Fox took his team to a sporting goods store.

Blair decided he needed a Panama-style golf hat.

He proceeded to shoot a 73 in Craig, 15 strokes under his score in Steamboat.

At Monday’s Wildcat Invitational tournament at Adobe Creek National Golf Course, Blair wore the hat again.

His round of 2-over-par 74 earned him individual medalist honors and his first victory of the season.

Actually, Fruita Monument’s entire White team (because it was the Wildcats’ tournament, they could play two varsity teams) shot a solid score, with all five players shooting under 80.

The White team dominated the seven-team tournament, shooting a 227 to finish 21 strokes ahead of second-place Grand Junction.

As with any true golfer, Blair credited his late-season improvement on his short game.

“I lost my putting in the middle of the season,” he said.

He got it back last Thursday. Chips and putts that were just off the mark in Steamboat started falling for Blair in Craig. That trend continued on Monday.

“This game’s really weird,” Blair said. “At Yampa (Valley Golf Course in Craig) I hit every shot true.”

The Wildcats began the season in the middle of team races but have steadily climbed the charts.

Ethan Grider and Ryan Keeler of Fruita Monument White shot 76 and 77, respectively, to finished second and tied for third. Joey Saad placed fifth and Jeff Cunningham tied for sixth with a 78 and 79.

“It’s been a work in progress,” Fox said of his team’s improvement during the season. “We’ve had low scores (by four players) but never really bunched it up like we did (Monday).”
Donny Stewart of Delta was the only player to break the Fruita Monument stranglehold. He tied with Keeler for third.

Grand Junction was again led by senior Mark Stern, who shot a 79, tying Cunningham for sixth.

Chad Johnson led Central, which finished sixth, with an 80.

Palisade took fourth, paced by No. 5 player Dalton Workman’s 84.


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