Nerves get the better of Bulldogs’ Smith
MONTROSE — During the final round of his high school career and on the cusp of achieving the top 10 state-meet finish and all-state status he desired, Kyler Smith did something he hadn’t done in about six months.
He shot an 80, as in: Oh no, an 80.
The reason, he said, was the product of another rare occurrence for the senior who had qualified for the Class 4A state golf tournament twice before for Palisade High School. He got nervous.
“I was a wreck, so to speak,” Smith said. “I don’t know why I was nervous. There was no reason to be.”
He shot 40 on each nine at Cobble Creek Golf Course and spoke of feeling tight, especially off the tee. Instead of finding the fairway the way he did in carding a 74 to tie for 10th place Monday, he frequently found the rough and occasionally hazards, especially on the back nine, where he took three penalties.
Still, Smith limited the damage with decent recoveries and hope arose for a strong finish after birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, but a double bogey on No. 17 negated the rally, and his putt for birdie on No. 18 just missed. He finished with a two-day total of 154, tied for 16th with four other golfers.
“It happens to everyone,” he said of the bad round. “It’s only an 80. I battled for it.”
None of the other five Grand Junction-area golfers shot better than 79 on Monday, so Tuesday was about rebounding, closing the season strong. Or, in the case of Rifle senior Triston Quigley, ending the career on a good note.
Quigley, who started on No. 10, shot a 42 on his first nine Tuesday, then rallied for a 1-under 35 on his final nine.
Palisade junior Skyler Miller shot 78 Tuesday, one day after carding an 85.
He felt better about that score, but lamented his putting, 35 putts each day.
Still, Miller said he’s better for the experience he gained in his first state tournament, especially when it comes to handling pressure.
Montrose junior Riley Willis was the only area golfer to break 80 in both rounds, following Monday’s 79 with a 78 to finish 23rd in the field of 84 golfers with a 157.
Willis was 1-over after eight holes Tuesday. Then disaster struck: nine strokes on par-5 No. 9 and a double-bogey on No. 13. He regained his composure, though, and eagled No. 16 and birdied No. 18.
Montrose coach Angelo DeJulio said he was proud of Willis for persevering, and he expects Willis learned a valuable lesson to apply to team golf: “Whether it’s a 68 or a 78, you have to get the most you can out of a round.”
Cedaredge senior James LeDonne shot a second-round 91 and finished tied for 51st place at 179 in the Class 3A state tournament at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver.