Putting for dough
'Gimme' wins RMO in playoff
Nathan Lashley felt as if he hadn’t made a putt all day, but he sank the one that mattered most.
When the players in the lead threesome found themselves tied at 200 on Sunday at the end of their third and final round, they went back to No. 18 at Tiara Rado Golf Course for a playoff. There, Lashley sank a two-foot birdie putt to win the Rocky Mountain Open championship.
“It was a gimme putt,” Lashley said, then qualified it with, “if I was playing with my buddies.”
With $8,000 on the line in a pro tournament, there was some pressure on that putt as well as his shots down the stretch.
“You have to control your emotions and hit shots,” Lashley said, adding he’s won tournaments in the past, but it’s been a while since the last one. “I was more nervous than I’ve been in a while.”
Getting into that playoff required some good fortune and clutch play by the 31-year-old pro from Scottsdale, Arizona.
First, he needed to overcome a two-stroke deficit over the final three holes. He accomplished that with a birdie on No. 16 to pull within a stroke of leader Jim Knous of Basalt. Then, he parred No. 17 while Knous and Taylor Montgomery bogeyed the hole, pulling Lashley into a tie with Knous.
Knous nearly ended the tournament in regulation on No. 18 with a brilliant chip shot from the top of the hill behind the green. The 24-year-old from Basalt placed that difficult shot about four feet from the hole.
“I definitely was thinking I’d lost the tournament at that point,” Lashley said.
But Knous sent his putt just left of the cup and settled for a tap-in par. Montgomery sank about a 15-foot putt for birdie, creating a three-way tie.
So, the trio went back to the tee box at No. 18, and Lashley and Knous placed their tee shots a couple of feet apart, both nestled in the grass on the embankment behind the green. Montgomery’s drive was in the rough on the left side of the green, and his chip stopped about six feet from the cup. Knous delivered another good chip that rolled about four feet past the hole, and Lashley followed with a chip two feet from the cup.
Making Lashley’s shot more impressive was the lie he had to overcome.
“I looked at his lie, and it was buried,” Knous said. “It was a phenomenal chip.”
Montgomery’s putt for birdie skirted the cup on the left side, and Knous pushed his putt slightly to the right. They settled for pars. Then, Lashley sank the tournament-winner.
Knous finished tied for second for the second straight year, but unlike last year when he lost by one stroke, he felt he let the win get away this time.
“This one definitely stings a lot more, just because I had it,” Knous said. “I had it.”
When he missed his birdie putt on No. 18 in regulation, Knous said he misread the break and aimed for the left edge of the hole.
“It turned out it was dead straight,” he said.
Montgomery won the RMO amateur championship after finishing second a year ago, and the 19-year-old from Henderson, Nevada, nearly became the third amateur in the 76-year history of the tournament to win the overall championship.
He also would have joined his father, Grand Junction native Monte Montgomery, as an overall champion at the RMO. Monte is a three-time winner of the tourney, including last year.
Taylor Montgomery pointed to two holes that cost him. He hit out of bounds on No. 6 and three putted for an 8 on the par-5 hole. Then, he bogeyed No. 17 when he missed a one-foot putt for par, which was preceded by an incredible shot out of the bunker on the right side of the green.
“I had my chances,” Taylor Montgomery said. “I played really well besides that. I could’ve made a few more putts, but I made a few, too.”
One of those made putts traversed the width of the green on No. 3, a distance he estimated was 60 to 70 feet.
Happy he’ll be a Mav
Paul Brown, who recently stepped down as coach of the Colorado Mesa University men’s golf team but remains involved with the program, proudly pointed out one of the Mavericks’ recruits, Eric Hill of Fort Collins, shot a 64 on Sunday.
Hill tied for eighth at 220, joined there by soon-to-be teammates Kyler Smith and Trevor McKune, who will be sophomores at CMU this fall. Maverick sophomore Bill Ramsey was 11th at 222.
3 was an awful number
Monte Montgomery’s bid to repeat as the RMO champ was derailed, in part, by No. 3 at Tiara Rado. He said he three-putted the 165-yard par-3 three times in four days, one of those days being Thursday’s pro-am.
“Tough hole,” he said.
Montgomery finished tied for eighth at 206. He entered the final round tied for fourth, two strokes off the lead.
A caring grandson
The gallery for the lead group Sunday included Taylor Montgomery’s grandparents, and he was looking out for their safety before hitting his approach shot on No. 11. He had a tree limb he needed to stay beneath, and if he hit the tree, he feared the ricochet might head toward his grandparents, who were up ahead, just off the fairway in the shade of a tree.
“Hey, Granddad,” Taylor yelled out.
When he got no response, he yelled, “Grandma,” and pointed for her to move the cart back.
“Just in case,” he explained. “I have to go under this tree.”