Rommann, Portie in position to win Rocky Mountain Open

Nick Killpack holes a nice putt Saturday at No. 11 during the second round of the Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open at Tiara Rado. Killpack, of St. George, Utah, is in contention with a 131.

Trent Rommann is hoping for a couple of things when he heads out of Grand Junction this afternoon.

One, a good-sized check in his pocket to cover his expenses and then some.

Two, a different route back to El Paso, Texas.

Rommann, the director of golf instruction at Painted Dunes Desert Golf Course, entered the Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open at the urging of a fellow El Paso golf pro, Chris Smith. The two traveled together to Grand Junction, and Rommann got his first look at Red Mountain Pass.

“I was the passenger hanging out over the edge and looking down,” he said Saturday after shooting 3-under-par 68 at Tiara Rado to go to 11-under 131. “I don’t know how many times we’d roll, but it wouldn’t be good.”

When Rommann left Tiara Rado, he was in a three-way tie for the lead. That only lasted a few hours, though — defending champion Ben Portie of Westminster made his move at Bookcliff Country Club, firing a 6-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead into today’s final round at Bookcliff.

Jordan Holley of Greensboro, N.C., tore up Tiara Rado later in the day, carding nine birdies and nine pars to shoot a 62 and move into second place at 13-under 129.

Riley Arp shot a 67 at Tiara Rado and is another stroke back, with Steve Schneiter and Dustin Pimm, both of Sandy, Utah, and Nick Killpack of St. George, Utah, tied with Rommann at 131.

Portie, who teed off on No. 10 at Bookcliff, carded five straight birdies on the back nine after opening with a pair of pars. He made his turn at 6-under 30 on the back nine, then birdied No. 1.

Three pars and another birdie helped him overcome back-to-back bogeys on 6 and 7.

After a 1-under 70 at Bookcliff, Jeb Savage of Rifle has a four-stroke lead over Cameron Brown of Edwards in the amateur championship flight.

Rick Hensley of Grand Junction shot a 75 at Bookcliff and leads the first flight by three strokes over Nick Spalding of Eagle and Mark Stern of Grand Junction. Hensley is at 147, Spalding and Stern 150.

Rommann, who shot a 63 on Friday at Bookcliff, had only one bogey Saturday. He played the back nine first and was 2 under, then bogeyed No. 1, but got that stroke back with a birdie on No. 2. Another birdie on the par-4 seventh hole kept him in contention heading back to Bookcliff.

“Out there you have a bunch of wedges,” he said. “Holes are reasonably short for most players. You have a bunch of wedges, hitting it in there and giving yourself a bunch of opportunities inside 15 to 20 feet for birdie, and then making some.

“That’s what I did (Friday), was able to make a bunch of 10-, 15-footers for birdie.”

Bookcliff’s slick greens haven’t seemed to bother the pros, nor has the new layout on the back nine at Tiara Rado.

“Most of these guys are good,” Rommann said, grinning. “Give them a wedge and putter and they’ll make a ton of birdies.”

Rommann, 28, played golf at UTEP, getting a degree in sociology in 2006.

“I was in college and I didn’t know (what I wanted to do),” he said. “I wanted to play golf, and I still do.”

He went through PGA school to become a teaching professional and finished that course work in March.

He teaches juniors and adults, anyone who wants to learn the game or improve the game they have.

And when he can take a few days off, he plays in tournaments.

“I try to do as I say,” he said.

“I’m used to the desert, used to the elevation. The ball goes a little father here, but El Paso is almost a mile high, not too humid. This doesn’t feel too bad. It’s 100 every day in El Paso.”

Even as the afternoon groups were teeing off, Rommann could tell today’s round at Bookcliff was shaping up for a good finish.

“Do the same thing I’ve been doing the last two days,” Rommann said. “Try to make birdies, hit some putts. Unless you have a 20-shot lead, unless you’re Tiger Woods and you’re cruising ... well, old Tiger.”


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