Steamboat sends Gunderson, Ptach to state

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Steamboat Springs High School golfers Scott Ptach and Kaelen Gunderson shot 78 on Tuesday in Aspen to qualify for the state tournament, Oct. 6 and 7 in Craig.

Steamboat - which had qualified as a team for the state tournament the past seven years - finished second at the regional golf tournament with a team score of 241, seven shots behind eventual winner Montrose.

Only the top finisher at regionals this year qualified as a team for the state tournament.

Steamboat's other two golfers, Alan Capistron and Ben VonThaden, shot 91 and 85, respectively. Ptach and Gunderson tied for second place as individuals.

"Regionals is kind of a pressure-cooker," Steamboat coach Steve Dodson said. "It's a different atmosphere from all the regular season events we go to. It's not fun to watch. I'd rather be playing than watching."

The Aspen course was in good shape and conditions were ideal. Still, the fast and undulating greens created problems for most of the field.

"No question. I think these were the toughest greens they've played all year," Steamboat assistant coach Scott Berry said. "They had a hard time with pace. They were short on uphill putts and long on downhill putts."

Gunderson and Ptach were able to handle the greens and some untimely breezes to capitalize on their opportunity.

Ptach said he had an up-and-down round before starting to put things together near the end of his front nine.

He played well until No. 17, where he had a double bogey.

"It's just good to go to state," Ptach said. "It's nice that it is in Craig. We know that course and it's not too hard of a course. Both Kaelen and I should be play pretty well there."

Both coaches credited the work they did at Catamount Ranch and Club leading up to the regional tournament for the Sailors' success.

Dodson said if Catamount hadn't allowed Steamboat to practice at its facilities, the Sailors would have struggled on Tuesday.

Now the attention turns to the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. Dodson said the team will continue to practice for the next couple of weeks and certainly make it over to Craig to play a couple of times.

"With it being at Yampa Valley Golf Course, we're real familiar with that golf course," Dodson said. "I look for them to have a really good tournament. The course sets up well. It's not overly long, but you have to place your shots on the tee box on several holes. We'll be prepared. It's an advantage that we're so close to the golf course."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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