Kinnaman leads after Day 1 at 5A state golf

GOLDEN — Even though he still is only a sophomore, Donny Kinnaman has faced his fair share of pressure tournaments.

As a freshman last year, the Grand Junction High School golfer qualified for state and acquitted himself well for a rookie by finishing in a tie for 23rd. And after honing his game on the summer circuit the past few months, Kinnaman showed Monday he perhaps is ready to etch his name among the top prep golfers in the state.

On a day when scores generally were high across the board at The Club at Rolling Hills, Kinnaman fired a 1-over-par 72 during the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament. Kinnaman will be in the envious position of owning the top spot on the leader board when the final round begins this morning.

Kinnaman holds a two-stroke lead over Ralston Valley teammates Jack Pedersen and Neil Tillman.

“He just played real smart and hit a lot of greens,” Grand Junction coach Tom LeFebre said. “He was 3-over after 10 holes, and he started making some clutch par putts. He probably made three par putts from outside 10 feet that kind of got him going. He was just real solid. A couple times when he got in trouble he didn’t try to do too much with it and just played it out.”

Kinnaman’s round began somewhat ominously, as a pair of bogeys during his first four holes put the sophomore in an immediate hole. But Kinnaman rallied the rest of the way, ultimately capping his day with a birdie that firmly ensconced the sophomore among the first-round leaders.

“I got off to kind of a rough start, but I hung around because I knew there were a lot of birdies out there, especially on the front nine,” Kinnaman said. “I hit the ball real well and putted real well. I knew I’d have a lot of chances to turn it around.

“Maybe last year there was a little bit more nerves. But once I get off that first tee and get a few holes in, that always settles no matter what tournament I’m in.”

Fruita Monument, which qualified its entire team after winning its regional tournament in Colorado Springs, suffered through a frustrating day, as none of the Wildcats finished better than the 6-over-par 77 turned in by Hunter Emerson.

Will Berg carded an 82 while Troy Dangler turned in an 88, giving Fruita Monument a three-player mark of 247 strokes, good for a tie for eighth-place in the team standings heading into the final round. Fruita’s fourth player, Kelin Henke, finished with a 90.

“I think if you asked them, they would be disappointed,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “Hunter finished about where I thought he would, and he had a great day. I thought he played really well all day. Probably Will Berg and (Dangler) are the ones who might be sad about their games. I don’t think Troy has shot anywhere near 88 all year. They left a lot of shots out there certainly, but tomorrow is another day.”

Kinnaman’s teammate, Greg Gibson, finished with an 83, and Central’s lone entrant, Preston Grandbouche, carded an 81.


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