Horns defend regional golf title in Cortez | AspenTimes.com

Horns defend regional golf title in Cortez

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

CORTEZ, Colo. Fretting about Thursdays 3A regional in Cortez, Basalt boys golf coach Pat Riley mentioned to his two seniors, Connor Rakowski and Jim Knous, that he hadnt slept well all week. The cure for Rileys tired eyes?Try a repeat regional championship, to which Rakowski and Knous led the Longhorns in dramatic fashion Thursday, each battling through adversity on a day when neither had his A game for a full 18 holes. Rakowski finished tied for third with Steamboat Springs Michael Weston with a 1-over 73, while Knous who had won nine of 11 tournaments entering the regional tied for fifth with a 74. Marty Knous finished with an 80, giving Basalt 227 points and a three-point team win over Steamboat Springs for the championship. It feels really great, especially being my senior year, Rakowski said afterward on his cell phone. It means so much that Im going home with this win. Sean Cruz of Rifle and Brian Grubbs of Cortez both had the best rounds of day, shooting even 72s. Cortez was just four strokes off Basalts pace with a third-place 231, with Montrose right behind in fourth (232). A bogey on the courses most difficult hole, the par-4 fifth, best characterized Rakowskis up-and-down round. At 415 yards, and featuring a sharp dogleg left with trees on both sides of the fairway, Rakowski opted to hit his driver. Two of the players he was playing with from Cortez went with hybrid clubs for their tee shots, which mistakenly led Rakowski to hit the wrong ball on his next shot because he assumed hed outhit both. There were two balls that were short, two that were longer, Rakowski said. I marked my ball with an orange pin, which is the same as Cortezs colors. The mistake cost Rakowski a two-stroke penalty. He sank a putt on one of the courses toughest greens to card what proved to be a crucial bogey. It was just a learning experience, Rakowski said. The gaffe came after par saves on No. 1 and No. 2, then another par at No. 3 and a birdie at No. 4. Rakowski regrouped after No. 5 to fire pars on the next four holes, before bogeying the 10th. He also had bogeys at No. 12 and No. 13, which prompted him to take a few moments before hitting his tee shot at the par-4 14th. At that point I was 3 over, he said. I knew I had to pull it together. A good drive was followed by a nice approach shot, then a putt for birdie. Another birdie followed at the par-5 15th, after Rakowski managed to get up and down from a bunker left of the green. He then finished strong with three straight pars to close out the round. Knous also had his rough patches Thursday, including a string of three bogeys on holes 12 through 14. Looking for a little luck, he switched out his ball and wound up sinking a birdie on the 15th, then finishing his round with three straight pars. We kind of struggled today, he said. We played good all year, then Connor got hurt [for three tournaments], and we didnt win any of those. We really didnt know what to expect going into today. Added Riley: Im always kind of pessimistic. I was a little worried, but the boys played great today. Rakowski and Jim and Marty Knous now have their sights set on next weeks 3A state championship in Broomfield. Last year Basalt finished seventh as a team. Nate Petersons e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.