It’s thumbs down for Basalt golf | AspenTimes.com

It’s thumbs down for Basalt golf

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

DELTA, Colo. Devil’s Thumb Golf Club was good to Basalt golfer Jim Knous on Wednesday in Delta, ironic considering a thumb injury has cast doubt on the Longhorns’ lofty postseason aspirations.Knous had company as he anxiously watched his 20-footer for birdie on the par-5 18th disappear into the cup, securing a two-stroke win – his seventh in eight tournaments. Teammate and No. 2 Connor Rakowski, left hand enclosed in a plastic cast, followed Knous for the entire round. Monday, the two were locked in a friendly – and seemingly harmless – flop shot contest at the Ironbridge Golf Course driving range in Glenwood Springs when a mishit proved costly. “I was trying to do flop shots as high as I could, and I hit behind the ball and my thumb got stuck,” Rakowski said. “I heard it pop.” “He grunted really loudly, and after that he was moaning and saying ‘Oh God, I can’t swing any more,'” Knous said. “I said ‘That can’t be good.'”Those fears were confirmed Tuesday, when a doctor told Rakowski he had a slight ligament tear in his left thumb. The injury could heel in two to four weeks, Rakowski said. He’s been the given the go ahead to play in the interim, but the risk may not be worth the reward; a similar injury would likely end his senior season. Basalt tees off at regionals Sept. 19 and 20 in Cortez. “For this to happen now really dampens your soul,” Rakowski said. “I was just starting to hit everything solid. My game was right where I wanted.”Basalt head coach Pat Riley heard the news Tuesday.”You never know with these young kids, they recuperate faster than us old guys,” he said. “Let’s hope so. We don’t have any chance to win tournaments while he’s gone.”The team felt the full brunt of Rakowski’s absence in Delta. While Knous and younger brother, Marty, posted rounds of 71 and 76, Basalt’s next-best score was sophomore Trenton D’Anna’s 100. Basalt finished with a team total of 247, 20 points behind Fruita monument. Had Rakowski played and shot 80, well above his season average, the Longhorns would’ve tied for the lead.”We were cruising and really playing well, and this really stinks,” Rakowski said. “If this happened last year, I’d know I have another year left, but this is it. It’s nice that Jim has been supportive of me not playing. He wants me to get healthy and do what it takes to get ready for regionals.”Knous looks primed for a postseason run after yet another stellar performance. He made the turn at 3-under and hit eight of nine greens on the front nine; it could’ve been four had he not missed a three-footer at No. 3 after driving the ball onto the fringe. After pars at 10 and 11, Knous shanked his drive at the par-4 12th and came up short of the fairway. He struggled to advance his second shot out of the weeds, leaving himself 200 yards on his third shot. He managed to get up-and-down to escape with a bogey.He carried the green on the drivable par-4 13th, and mishit his chip so badly that the ball rolled into a bunker. His third shot sailed over the green, and he bogeyed.He bogeyed three out of four after an errant drive at 15 and fell back to even. He climbed back into negative numbers with a long putt at the par-5 18th. He birdied three of four par-5s. “I hope I can just keep playing well,” Knous said.Aspen finished 11th out of 19 after posting a 271. Sophomore Conor Hansen led the way with 85, Taylor Huske had 91 and Gerald Hua finished with 95 for the young Skiers. Coincidentally, Aspen’s No. 1, Trent Manchester, hurt his thumb during a recent football practice and looks doubtful to return to the course with just two weeks remaining.Knous hopes Rakowski will be playing, not watching, sooner rather than later.”It’s never good when you don’t have your second-best player. Me and Marty went low and still finished in the back of the pack, so that’s where we’ll miss Connor,” Knous said. “Hopefully he recovers quickly. We need him.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com