Top Juniors look to claim Haywhacker title

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Moments before Collin Covault's opening tee shot bounced safely in the middle of the No. 10 fairway at the Haymaker Golf Course, the 16-year-old knew it was going to be a good day.

He said he could feel it in the grip of his 3 iron as he struck the ball perfectly, sending it along a 250-plus yard journey that ended just a chip away from the green of the par-4 hole. He opened the tournament on the back nine.

"It was such a pure shot. I had so much confidence after I hit that shot that I knew it was going to be a good round," he said. "I'm not really surprised to be in the lead, but I am surprised at how well I played -- it was my best round ever."

It was just the first of many great shots for the golfer from Montrose who went on to take the leader's spot in the annual two-day Haywhacker tournament with an opening round score of 67. He is followed closely by hometown favorite Paul Berry, who is in second at 68. Englewood's Matthew Rubin and Aurora's Branden Barron are tied for third at 71.

Covault is keeping Wednesday's performance in perspective and knows that there are still 18 holes and some challenging shots between him and the Haywhacker title.

"You can't win on the first day," Covault said. "Most golf tournaments are won on the second day."

Covault, a member of last year's Colorado State High School Championships team, said he plays regularly in other Colorado Junior Golf Association events and has been in this position before. He insists that he hasn't won anything yet.

"I'm not going to worry about it," Covault said about holding onto the lead. "I'm not going to worry about Paul (Berry) or any of the other players. I'm not playing them; I'm playing the course."

Berry also is taking things in stride and is happy to be sitting in second after the first day.

"It's a personal thing," Berry said about playing with the lead. "I guess it just depends on if you like to be the hunter or the hunted. ... The way I see it, I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain."

But the Steamboat golfer also knows a lot of other top golfers who would like nothing better than to move past him and Covault on the final day.

"I put myself in the hunt. That's all I've done," Berry said.

Berry and Covault are playing in the championship division of the tournament, which is reserved for golfers ages 14 to 18 with a handicap of 5 or less.

The tournament also offers separate divisions for golfers between the ages of 11 and 13, 14 and 15 and 16 and 18.

There are 126 golfers in the tournament, which is sanctioned by the CJGA. Five of those golfers -- Berry, Michael Weston, Kenton Gamache, Billy Taylor and Tucker Campbell-- are from Steamboat. Play will continue at 7 a.m. today.

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