Ryan Brees didn't have a tee time, but he hoped his early arrival to Haymaker Golf Course would enable him to get in the Haywhacker Championship field.
Waking up at 6 a.m. proved wise, as Brees, a former Steamboat Springs High School golfer, topped the leaderboard after the first day of the Haywhacker, a Colorado Junior Golf Association tournament.
Brees, 18, said he just missed the registration deadline but was able to fill a vacant spot. After firing an even par 72, behind 13 pars Wednesday, Brees will be the player to beat today.
"The hard thing about this course is the long, native grass," Brees said. "I stayed out of it until 18. I've learned you can't win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it."
Brees was one of five Steam--boat Springs players in the tournament field.
Colorado Springs golfer David Schroeder, 16, was appreciative of the chance to play at Haymaker. The Cheyenne Mountain High School golfer had never played the course until teeing off Wednesday.
"It was really nice," Schroeder said. "I always play better on tough courses. On this course, you have to keep it in play at all times."
Schroeder, who shot a 76 on the first day, was just one shot off the pace set early by former Steamboat Springs golfer Kenton Gamache, 18, who shot a 75 on Wednesday.
"That's OK for the second tournament of the year," Gamache said about his score. "I had a double bogey I could have gotten rid of. The key to this course is keeping it in the fairway. Don't try to do anything amazing."
Gamache was atop the leaderboard after the early foursomes came in, but he watched seven golfers finish with better scores, including Brees and current Steamboat golfer Paul Berry.
In his trademark Tilley hat, or bucket hat as the 17-year-old Berry calls it, the junior-to-be turned in a 74. Three other golfers tied Berry's score. But Berry will be paired with Brees, Branden Barron and Tyler Parsloe, who both shot 73, in the final foursome.
Brandon McCoy, Matt Rub--in and Klint Krieger -- all of whom shot 74 -- will be with Gamache.
Berry might not be the current leader, but the defending champion is just two strokes off the pace set by his former teammate.
"Having won it, people are interested in what you do," Berry said. "I had lots of bogeys and quite a few birdies (Wednesday)."
The first half of Wednesday's 18-hole round was chilly and overcast. Temperatures had reached 80 degrees by the time the final foursomes approached the clubhouse at the end of their rounds.
Dry, windy conditions will firm up Haymaker's greens even more for today's final round. Forecasts are calling for 80 degrees and mostly sunny skies.
The first group is scheduled to tee off at 7 a.m., with the final foursome in the championship division expected back to the clubhouse at about 1:30 p.m. Haymaker will be closed to the public during that time.
The 11- to 13-year-olds will tee off closer to the lunch hour but only will play the front nine holes today.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org