Thursday, September 5, 2002
Steamboat Springs Thursday's high school golf tournament came down to a 5-foot putt into a tree-bending wind on the par-4 16th hole at the Haymaker Golf Course.
"I just try to make my par and see what happens from there," tournament winner Eric Winder said.
The critical putt came on the second hole of sudden death as Grand Junction's Winder stood on the threshold of victory and Durango's Jake Hermes waited in the wings hoping for some sort of miracle.
The two golfers had finished the first 18 holes tied at 73, and both parred the 15th hole on the first hole of sudden death.
But now one putt and several feet of rolling green were all that separated Winder, who uses a boxing glove as a head cover for his driver, from landing the knockout punch and collecting the victory.
"I was just trying to stand up (in the wind) and just make the putt," Winder said. "Your balance is a little off, but you just have to focus and knock it in."
Winder gained the advantage on the hole after Hermes dropped his tee shot into the bunker along the right side of the fairway on his first shot. However, the Durango golfer didn't go down without a fight. Hermes played his second shot back into the fairway, made a great third shot onto the fringe of the green and had putted to within a foot of the hole with hopes of extending the playoff against his counterpart.
But Winder's fourth shot on the hole landed like a boxer's nasty right hook and brought the tournament to a quick end in the Grand Junction golfer's favor.
The Haymaker tournament completed two days of high school golf in Steamboat.
Steamboat's Jeff Franks, who won Wednesday's event at the Catamount Ranch and Club, finished in a tie for third in the final standings with Roaring Fork's Sean McMechen with an 18-hole total of 74.
"I never felt solid over the ball today," Franks said. "I'm pretty happy that I could finish at 74 with the way I was hitting the ball."
Steamboat had two other golfers finish under 80 on the day. Cody Sherrill came off the course with a 77 and newcomer Kenton Gamache fired a round of 79. Other local finishers included Sean Murphy and Hunter Hidalgo, who both finished at 87.
Durango won the team title with a total of 227. Cedaredge followed at 228 and Rifle, Grand Junction and Roaring Fork all finished in a tie for third at 229.
Steamboat was just out of the hunt at 230 and was followed by Aspen at 234.
"I was pretty happy with the day," Sailors coach Jason Deigert said. "I think Jeff was a little disappointed. I think he had a couple of holes he could have saved a shot or two on but overall, he played pretty steady."
The coach also said that both Sherrill and Gamache fired solid rounds. It was the first time Gamache has finished under 80 since joining the team a couple of weeks ago. This was his third tournament as a Sailor.
"This was a great tournament for our confidence," Franks said. "Right now I'm just trying to focus and prepare for the regional."
The Sailors will play in three tournaments next week before hosting the Western Regional Tournament at the Haymaker Golf Course Sept. 18.
Deigert said the rest of the team would also start to shift its focus to the postseason as it enters the final stretch of the season.
"I have my top two players defined, but I have a handful of guys who are really fighting for the third and fourth spot," Deigert said. "This was basically our regional tournament. Every team that will be in our regional tournament is here and obviously from these results we can be very competitive.
"We are basically one or two shots out of the lead here.