Kupcho leads Haywhacker field as junior golfers battle it out | SteamboatToday.com

Kupcho leads Haywhacker field as junior golfers battle it out

— Three strokes separate Westminster golfer Steven Kupcho from the field in the championship flight of the Colorado Junior Golf Association's Haywhacker Golf Tournament in Steamboat Springs.

Kupcho opened the tournament Monday by shooting a two-under-par round of 70 at the Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club. That was three strokes better than Andrew Vance, of Lakewood, and four better than Connor Klein, of Lone Tree. Steamboat Springs golfer Scott Ptach was the only local golfer in the championship flight. He is tied for 15th.

"I hit the fairways with my drives and found the greens. I was also putting pretty well," Kupcho said after his round Monday. "Those are the keys to being successful on a course like this."

The leader was even through four before collecting back-to-back birdies on the challenging mountain-style course. But a bogey on No. 9 dropped him to one-under par on the front side.

On the back nine, Kupcho overcame a bogey on No. 11 by rebounding with birdies on No. 16 and No. 18 to finish the day at two-under par. The annual CJGA event, which drew 170 of the state's top junior golfers between the ages of 11 and 18, is being split between the Haymaker and Rollingstone Ranch golf courses.

On Monday, the boys championship flight and the girls divisions played at Rollingstone Ranch. The other divisions played at Haymaker. The flights will swap courses today, and Kupcho will need to adjust to the rolling, links-style layout of Haymaker if he hopes to hold off the field, which includes Vance and the defending champion Klein — who was confident after the opening round.

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"You can go a little longer with your tee shot at Haymaker," Klein said. "There is a lot more room on that course."

Klein said the open fairways and longer holes of the Haymaker course is better suited to his style and that he is looking forward to today's second round. Last year, Klein overcame a three-stroke deficit on the final day to win the tournament. He hopes for a similar showing this time around.

"It's going to be a battle. Steven is a great player and there will be a few others to look out for," Klein said. "It should be a lot of fun."

The championship flight is just one of six in the tournament. Zachary Hull, of Highlands Ranch, is leading the boy's 16-18 division. He shot an 80 on the first day to take a two-stroke lead over Brandon Martin, of Windsor, and Michael Hanrahan, of Fort Collins. Steamboat's Skyler Martin is tied for ninth.

Spencer Painton, of Aurora, and Parker Cushing, of Lone Tree, are tied for the lead in the boys 14-15 division. Arvada's Jack Cummings and Aspen's Clayton Crawford are one stroke back of the leaders. Steamboat's Samuel Scheer is 12th.

In the 11-13 flight, Castle Rock's Ross Macdonald is leading the pack. He is one stroke ahead of Jake Staiano, of Cherry Hills Village. Steam­boat's Brandon Martin is in 11th place.

Both girls flights are tight headed into the final day. Castle Rock's Sara Shafer, who finished fourth last year, is tied with Mackenzie Cohen, of Centennial, for the lead in the girls 14-18 flight. In the younger 11-13 flight, it's Jennifer Kupcho, of Westminster, with a one-stroke lead over Mary Weinstein, of Highlands Ranch, and Alexandria Trask, of Den­ver.

All of the flights will be back on the course this morning for the final day of the Haywhacker golf tournament. Play will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the leaders teeing off last.