Worth the trip

Humerickhouse takes lead after deciding to play in Colorado West Amateur

Grand Junction’s John Cain hits out of the bunker on the 18th hole Friday during the first round of the Colorado West Amateur at Bookcliff Country Club. The three-day tournament continues today.

Keith Humerickhouse sat in the middle of a stairwell at 9:30 p.m. Thursday night with a decision to make.

The owner of Perfectly Layed Hardwood Floors was nearing the end of a 16-hour day, sanding wood floors in a Basalt home, and he questioned whether he really wanted to drive two hours from his home in Eagle to play in the Colorado West Amateur golf tournament Friday through Sunday.

He knew he wouldn’t get home until 11 p.m. Thursday night, and he said his arms “hurt so bad, I didn’t know if I wanted to swing a club.” He asked himself if three straight days of competitive golf made any sense. Especially when he’s been lucky to play one round of golf a week because he’s been so busy with work.

Friday morning the former professional golfer headed to Grand Junction, and Friday evening he left Bookcliff Country Club as the Day 1 leader of the tournament after firing a 4-under-par 67, three strokes ahead of Ridgway’s Kolton Kyne, the only other golfer in the championship flight to finish the round under par. Grand Junction High School sophomore Trevor Olkowski and Colorado Mesa University’s Chris Aiken are tied for third at even-par 71.

The decision to play ultimately was decided by “my love of competition,” said Humerickhouse, who won the tournament in 2010.

Humerickhouse’s performance on the first hole Friday had him wondering again about his decision to come to Grand Junction. After a great drive, he three-putted for par instead of opening with a birdie.

His day got better, especially after he birdied the par-4 No. 9, hitting a tricky shot from the rough in which he needed to keep the trajectory low to avoid hitting some tree limbs. The ball ended up two feet from the hole.

“It wasn’t like I was trying to hit it close,” Humerickhouse said. “That birdie got me back to even par, gave me some confidence.”

Humerickhouse proceeded to shoot 4-under on the back nine.

Now, he’d like to keep the momentum, but his lack of regular playing has him concerned.

“When I go out, I don’t know what it’s going to be,” he said. “I can shoot a 68 or a 78.

“Hopefully today was my worst day. I didn’t come in feeling like I would shoot like this.”

Kyne hopes Humerickhouse has one of those 78s coming, or something above par, or Humerickhouse is going to be tough to catch.

Kyne said nothing stood out about his round Friday other than he made up for four bogeys with five birdies. Three of his bogeys came on par-3 holes, and he birdied all three of the par-fives on the back nine.

“I just didn’t make any mistakes,” said Kyne, who will be a junior on the Concordia University (Oregon) golf team this fall. “I dumped it on the fairway, dumped it on the green and two-putted.”

Olkowski had the shot of the day, a hole in one on No. 15, a 141-yard par-3.

“I hit a three-quarter pitching wedge and slight draw, and it bounced once, I think, and went in,” said Olkowski, adding it was his second hole in one, the other coming in San Diego when he was 10.

He said the ace helped make up for a few putts that hung on the lip instead of falling.

The strong start to the Colorado West Amateur was the third day of great golf from the 15-year-old, who shot rounds of 71 and 67 at Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club in Windsor on Wednesday and Thursday to qualify for the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships, which will be July 14-18 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego.

Two golfers from the second flight had exceptional days as Dacre Williams was one of only five golfers in the six-flight, 145-player field to shoot par or better, carding a 71. Meanwhile, a common refrain among golfers hanging around the clubhouse was: “Did you see what Bruce Hill did?”

Hill shot a 72, good for second place in the second flight and tied for sixth overall with Joey Saad and Matt Hall of the championship flight.

Hill said it was the best round he ever shot in any tournament, two strokes better than a 74 at Tiara Rado Golf Course. And, in his third year at the Colorado West Amateur, it blew away his previous best of 84 at the tournament.

Hill said he has gotten more serious about golf in recent years, and playing in tournaments is an attempt to improve his game.

“It’s a bit more stressful than the average round of golf with my buddies,” he said.

Friday, he added, was stressful and exciting, and what made the round more fun was his daughter Avery, who plays on the Grand Junction High girls golf team, was his caddy.


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