ThunderRidge’s Mitchell tied for first in Class 5A tourney

Fruita Monument’s Joey Saad chips onto the green Monday during the boys state golf championships. Saad shot a 76.

Grand Junction freshman Donny Kinnaman hits onto the green Monday at No. 18 at Bookcliff Country Club during the opening round of the 2011 Class 5A boys state golf championships. Kinnaman shot a 75.

Quade Mitchell wouldn’t be playing in the Class 5A boys state golf championships if it weren’t for his teammates.

The ThunderRidge High School junior is taking advantage of his opportunity.

Mitchell carded a 2-under-par 69 on Monday and is tied for first place with Brandon Gayeski of Mountain Range after the first round of the state tournament at Bookcliff Country Club.

“This is awesome,” Mitchell said. “I never really thought I’d be in this position. I always try to play my best, but it feels so good that it’s actually happened.”

Highlands Ranch leads the team race with a 219. Cherry Creek is one shot back at 220. Regis and ThunderRidge are tied for third at 221.

Mitchell didn’t score low enough in regionals two weeks ago to qualify for state, but the Grizzlies won the team title, allowing him to qualify for state with his teammates.

“I only had one bogey today,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t miss many putts today, I was making them from everywhere. I got off the tee (well). I didn’t miss many fairways; that was probably the key.

“I was trying not to focus too hard on it. I was trying to go out and have fun.”

Gayeski overcame a slow start and finished strong.

“I got off to a rough start today and was two-over (par) after five,” Gayeski said. “I started putting better.”

Both leaders are playing Bookcliff for the first time, although Gayeski said he plays on a course in Westminster designed by the same architect who designed Bookcliff Country Club.

Grand Junction freshman Donny Kinnaman shot 4-over-par 75 and is tied for 23rd.

“I couldn’t make my birdies,” Kinnaman said of the front nine. He started his round on No. 10. “I was hitting good shots and giving myself good chances, but I missed probably 10 birdie putts. Half of them could’ve easily gone in.

“I was feeling pretty confident. I didn’t hit it in the fairway, but I hit it pretty solid.”

Fruita Monument’s Joey Saad is one shot back of Kinnaman with a 76.

“It’s not like I hit it bad, but I had a couple bad shots that cost me,” Saad said. “I wanted to come out and play like I always do, but I didn’t.”

The senior was even-par after 11 holes and was five over on par 3 holes, Fruita coach Dave Fox said.

“I’m going to shake it off and get back to where I want to be,” Saad said. “I didn’t let it get to me. I think I handled myself well. I could’ve blown up, but I kept my composure.”

Garrett Fante shot 79 for the Tigers.

“It was a rough day,” Fante said. “I only hit five fairways and with the rough being as long as it was today, it was hard to get the ball on the green.”

The senior played his first 11 holes 1-over-par, but had two double-bogeys on the final 7 holes.

Mitchell played well from the start and hopes to match it again today.

“I didn’t have the highest expectations,” he said. “I wasn’t playing too good lately. Really, I wanted to come out shoot par and I made some birdies.

“I want to try to do the same thing (today). It’s a good feeling. I’ve worked all summer to be where I am at this point.”


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