Mills in contention at RMO

It’s a good thing Dustin Mills doesn’t believe in omens.

Playing in Thursday’s pro-am at the Rocky Mountain Open golf tournament, Mills made a hole in one on the eighth at Tiara Rado Golf Course. That allowed Mills finish in a tie for third in the professional division and helped his foursome just finish in the money in the team event.

“I’ve always been leery if I played well in the pro-am,” the Arvada professional said.

Most pros view playing well in a pro-am equivalent to playing well in the par-3 tournament the Wednesday before the Masters. Few who do well in the first do well in the latter.

Mills broke that myth during Friday’s opening round of the 71st annual RMO. He shot a 6-under-par 65 at Tiara Rado to put himself in contention.

Playing the afternoon round at Lincoln Park Golf Course, Michael Baird shot an 8-under-par 64. Scott Huelskamp and Jason Allen, who had late tee times at Tiara Rado and Lincoln Park, respectively, shot minus-7 to trail Baird by one stroke.

Mills was happy to put himself in contention on the first day.

“The thing I noticed (Thursday) was I had the putter going,” Mills said.

That hasn’t always been the case this summer. In fact, he took time off from playing in state and regional opens for that reason.

“The last three months I was hitting the ball well (but) I wasn’t scoring,” he said. “If you can putt well, you only have to hit adequate.”

He did both well on Friday.

Those who played Tiara Rado on Friday all raved about the greens.

“They’re smooth and fast,” Mills said.

That worked in Mills’ favor.

“I love fast greens,” he said.

Eric Winder, who has returned to Grand Junction after living in Colorado Springs to play for the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs men’s team and then using that as a base after he turned pro early last summer, agreed.

“The greens are great right now,” said Winder, who shot a 66 at Tiara Rado to trail by three shots. “It’s your fault if you miss (a putt).”

Like Mills, Winder, who played both courses frequently while growing up, decided he needed a bit of a break this summer.

“I wasn’t playing very good for a while,” he said. “I took a few weeks off to practice. I think it helped.”

Keith Humerickhouse shot a 7-under-par 65 at Lincoln Park to take a three-shot lead on Scott Sullivan in the amateur division. Sullivan’s 68 came at Tiara Rado. Brandon
Bingaman was third at 69.


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