Smith closes out Day 1 of 4A state golf tourney six strokes off the lead
The back nine started with a pair of birdies, dangling the hope of an even-par first round. Then came the next two holes, a double bogey and bogey, dashing the thought.
But Kyler Smith, not one to rattle, resumed shooting pars and added one more birdie to finish Monday’s first round of the CHSAA Class 4A state golf tournament in position to reach his goal. The Palisade High School senior, playing in his third state meet, wants to finish in the top 10 and earn all-state honors.
He enters today’ second and final round at Cobble Creek Golf Course tied for 10th with two others at 74 strokes.
After firing a front-nine 38, Smith parred the back nine with a 36 to finish 2-over, six strokes behind the leader. Jacob Allenback of Pueblo Centennial is alone in first place at 68, and three players are tied for second at 71, while four players are tied at 72. One shot 73.
Smith would have preferred to make it five players at par, and he thought he was headed there.
“I birdied (Nos.) 10 and 11 to pull even, then doubled 12 to give them right back, kind of disappointing,” Smith said. “That was a mistake. I put a bad swing on that tee shot, hit it to the right.”
He nearly saved a stroke on the front nine on what was a minor miracle of a bogey on No. 4. He hit his second shot long on No. 4, landing about 25 yards behind the green and below a ridge, leaving him unable to see the pin. It gets worse. The ball was in the middle of a bush on top of a pile of leaves. So, he had to levitate his club and pick the ball clean on a blind chip that he nearly holed.
“I missed the pin by about two inches,” Smith said, adding he was left with a 10-foot putt that he just missed.
As Palisade coach Jan Norell watched him avert disaster, she said she was thinking, “If he makes this (par putt), he’ll never touch the ground.”
As it was, bogey was acceptable, but par would have been a big confidence boost, Smith said.
True to the easy-going demeanor he’s known for on the course, Smith didn’t complain about his 74. Instead, he spoke about the opportunity that awaits today.
“It’s good that it’s here. I know the course,” Smith said of Cobble Creek. “I know I’ve scored well on every hole, and I can score well again.”
He also believes Monday’s pin placements were as difficult as they could be at Cobble Creek, and that led him to doubt some approach shots, but Smith said he left the course Monday confident about the approach he needs today.
“Just have confidence in my aim,” he said. “Aim at that flag and hit it at the flag. No need to try to baby it up there. ... When you have the club, hit it, swing it.”
Only two other area golfers broke 80 in the first round. Montrose junior Riley Willis and Rifle senior Danny Bartels each shot 79, tied with three others for 28th.
Rifle sits in 10th place in the 12-team field with 248 strokes, as Bears senior Triston Quigley shot an 82, and junior Ty Caron shot an 87. Valor Christian leads the field at 219, while Pueblo South is one stroke back.
Palisade junior Skyler Miller shot an 85.
Yes, they have a gallery
Smith and Willis played in the same three-player grouping Monday, and being from the area, they had the largest fan support with a gallery of about 30 people. Norell said six other Palisade varsity and junior varsity players made the trip to support Smith and Miller. Willis had the hometown advantage for drawing teammates, friends and parents.
“It was nice, getting those claps and cheers when you’d make a putt,” Smith said.
Class 3A state tourney
Cedaredge senior James LeDonne shot an 88 during the first round of the CHSAA Class 3A state tournament Monday at Denver’s Pinehurst Country Club.
LeDonne is tied for 52nd place. Kent Denver’s Ben Moore and Ethan Freeman are tied for first at 70, and Kent Denver leads the team standings by 17 strokes with a 217. Vail Christian is fourth at 238, a stroke ahead of fifth-place Aspen.