A fifth win for Basalt golfers

Jon Maletz

Basalt golf coach Pat Riley passed up on the chance Monday to praise his team’s early-season success. While he won’t mouth the words, it’s a sure bet the coach is grinning. The Longhorns won their fifth tournament of the season Monday at River Valley Ranch – they’ve played just seven. It’s a run and a winning percentage that would impress Riley’s NBA namesake. “I won’t say anything [about this team] until after Wednesday,” Riley said. “We’re going to Delta, and then we’ll see how good we are.”Basalt travels to Delta Wednesday to play a Devil’s Thumb Golf Club course that will host regionals in September. There, the Longhorns will compete against 20 teams.Monday, against a field of 13, Basalt again asserted itself. The Longhorns posted a cumulative score of 225, six shots better than Fruita Monument. Eagle Valley was third with 232, and Glenwood was fourth with 237. Basalt junior Jim Knous’ 4-under-par round of 68 earned him his third individual title this season. Junior Connor Rakowski shot 74 and senior Bryan Mason 83.Knous again overcame a sluggish start to close with six birdies on a course where he won last year. Durango’s Tyler Coates finished second with 71.”I’m not really sure why I start so slow. I always feel a little nervous on the first tee,” Knous said. “I get a little calmed down after a while.” That’s an understatement. Knous, who three-putted for bogey from 60 feet on No. 6 – his first hole – birdied four of his next seven holes. “The greens at River Valley Ranch are big, especially at No. 6,” Riley said. “That’s an easy one to three-putt.”Knous added birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 en route to his second-best scoring round of the year; he posted a 5-under round of 66 on Aug. 14 at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction. Monday, Knous hit 15 greens in regulation.His only other misstep came at No. 2, where he bogeyed a second time. Knous, 220 yards out after his tee shot on the par-5, hit his second shot right of the putting surface. His pitch sailed over the green and he failed to get up-and-down to save par. Knous’ otherwise clean round included 10 pars. He kept the ball in play off the tee, Riley said, and left himself with manageable birdie putts. Knous’ familiarity with River Valley Ranch didn’t hurt, either.”I’ve played there so much that I know all the local knowledge. I know where to miss shots,” Knous said. “I’m playing really well right now. All my putts are falling.”Perhaps Basalt’s greatest surprise Monday came from another Knous. Jim’s younger brother, Marty, just a freshman, shot 77. Because he was the team’s sixth man and was designated to play junior varsity, Marty’s score didn’t count toward the team’s total. The prospect of having two Knouses near the top of the leaderboard in 2007 is a chilling thought for the rest of the region.”It was the best 18 holes Marty has ever played,” Riley said. “It’s a brother act. He was awesome today.”Aspen (243) finished in a tie for fifth with Central. Senior Matt Butler shot 78, junior Trent Machester an 82, freshman Conor Hansen an 83, sophomore Gerald Hua an 85 and junior Taylor Huske a 91.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is