Kinnaman on 5A radar
GOLDEN — Donny Kinnaman’s small yet painful dip atop the leader board at the CHSAA Class 5A state golf finals could be summarized succinctly by one glaring analysis.
The sophomore from Grand Junction High did not have a single three-putt hole during Monday’s first round, when Kinnaman surged to the top of the leader board. On Tuesday, with a potential state title in the balance, Kinnaman three-putted on three separate holes.
That three-stroke differential essentially proved to be the difference in Kinnaman’s state championship hopes. After finishing the first round with a 1-over-par 72, Kinnaman carded a 4-over 75 in the second round Tuesday, a drop that left Kinnaman in fourth place at the end of the two-day tournament at The Club at Rolling Hills.
“I had three three-putts today, and I didn’t have any yesterday. That pretty much was the difference,” Kinnaman said. “I didn’t really think about (the pressure) and just tried to play it like any other tournament. I didn’t really feel a whole lot of pressure all day, but it was really fun to be in contention.”
Kinnaman finished with a two-round 147, one stroke behind the tournament’s two runner-up finishers, Eric Chen of Legacy and Spencer Painton of Regis Jesuit, and two strokes behind state champion Kyler Dunkle of Douglas County.
Kinnaman was making a bid to become the third boys golf state champion in school history, following in the footsteps of Monte Montgomery (1987) and Paul Nolen (1978).
Kinnaman’s effort at the state tournament, combined with his regional tournament win less than two weeks ago, alleviated some of the sting of what the sophomore described as a disappointing season overall.
Despite not winning a tournament until his regional victory, Kinnaman’s strong finish to the 2012 campaign will leave him on the short list of state title favorites once the 2013 season rolls around.
“This gives me a little bit of redemption for how I played at the beginning of the season,” Kinnaman said. “I sharpened up my game more and started working a little harder than I was at the beginning of the year. I have two more state tournaments, so I’m looking forward to them.”
In the team race, Fruita Monument shaved two strokes off its collective first-round score before finishing ninth among the 14 full teams competing at state. The Wildcats carded a 247 in Monday’s opening round and trimmed that to a 245 on Tuesday, completing the tournament with a 492.
Senior Hunter Emerson carded an 80 to lead the Wildcats for the second day in a row and finished with a 157 for the tourney, tied for 20th. Fruita senior Will Berg and freshman Troy Dangler each shot 83 in the final round and finished at 165 and 171, respectively. The Wildcats’ fourth player, Kelin Henke, did not figure into the team total, yet posted a second-round mark of 82, an eight-stroke improvement over his first-round score.
“We had a great year,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “We would have liked to have finished a little better, both individually and as a team, but overall it was a fun group of kids to be around. I was happy for them today.”
Kinnaman’s Grand Junction teammate, Greg Gibson, posted a two-round mark of 168. Central’s Preston Grandbouche finished with a 163.