Ridgway’s Nick Purvis is back in the swing of things, wins Aspen golf regional
The Aspen Times
ASPEN — Doctors told Nick Purvis not to swing a golf club for at least two months. Had he heeded their advice, the Ridgway High School freshman would have missed Tuesday’s 3A Western Conference Regional at the Aspen Golf Course.
That was never an option. Not when there were goals to obtain, goals he began formulating in sixth grade.
Purvis was attempting to hack his ball out of a patch of thick native grass during a practice round at the Divide Ranch & Club in Ridgway last month when he twisted his wrist, severely aggravating a tendon. The pain shot from his fingers to his shoulder blade, Purvis remembered.He tried to play through the discomfort but was forced to withdraw from Aug. 11’s tournament at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction after just three holes.
For four weeks, Purvis didnt pick up a club. Last Tuesday, he couldn’t wait any longer.
“It was probably the toughest time I’ve ever had,” he said. “I had a hard time with it. It felt good just to get play golf. It felt good just to get back on the course.”
Purvis shot 2-over-par in his first practice round last week at Divide Ranch & Club. Tuesday, his comeback took another giant leap forward. On a day when stiff winds and firm greens inflated scores across the board, the soft-spoken 15-year-old turned in an 8-over 79 to claim medalist honors. He bested his nearest competitor, Basalt junior Marty Knous, by four strokes.
“I was thinking a 79 would be good enough to get me to go play at state but not win,” Purvis said. “This is a surprise.”
Three Gunnison players shot 85 to help the Cowboys clinch the team title and a spot in the state tournament, which takes place Oct. 6 and 7 at the Spring Valley Golf Course in Elizabeth. Roaring Fork (278) and Aspen (282) finished second and third.
Skiers Bobby Moyer (90) and Omri Gildor (95) were among the 17 players who qualified. Course conditions were so difficult that players who shot 97 were in the running for a state berth. Cedaredge’s Max Barwick outlasted Telluride’s Walker Hollarah and Aspen’s Ryan Smith in a one-hole playoff to nab the final spot.
Purvis, like the majority of the field, struggled with his pace on Aspen’s undulating greens. And while he missed multiple birdie opportunities from inside 15 feet, he had no three-putts. His only gaffe came at the 169-yard par-3 third. Purvis’ tee shot faded well left and settled under a tree. He punched the ball out, but it rolled through the green and into the rough. He wound up with a double bogey.
“I hit the shot I wanted, but there was no rough to catch it and slow it down,” he said. “That was my only major mistake. I’m pretty pleased with how things went.”
Knous did not share that sentiment, despite clinching a second-consecutive state berth.
“I was just so angry today,” said Knous, who won earlier this year at Bookcliff. “I had to struggle so hard to get my scores as low as I could.”
Knous was confident after shooting 78 in Monday’s practice round. That optimism dissipated after a few early bogeys, then an errant drive at No. 9. Knous’ tee shot rolled into the native grass, he hacked it out then had an approach from 170 yards with the ball resting well below his feet at address. He managed to find the green but three-putted for double bogey.
Knous hooked his drive at the 16th into the trees, and it took him nearly four minutes to find his ball in the thick rough, he said. He tried to knock the ball under a tree and back in play but wound up overshooting the fairway and landing in an adjacent hazard. He walked away with a second double after taking a drop.
“My golf game’s been bad. The last five or six tournaments I’ve shot in the 80s,” Knous said. “I hope I can get that under control.”
Knous wasn’t the only Longhorn player to flounder Tuesday. One day after shooting 82 in the practice round, Patrick Hall matched teammate Luke Newberry with 109. Kyp Schoon finished with 107 for the 2006 and 2007 regional champions.
“It went about as bad as you can possibly imagine,” first-year Basalt coach Steve Knous said. “I certainly had a sense it would be a day like this when I checked in with the kids and they seemed so down and so frustrated. It seemed like every time I looked over, they’d be in the trees again. Tournament play is much different than practice. You can feel the pressure, and you get a little tighter. Maybe they were trying too hard. They wanted to make it and do well.”
Aspen’s Moyer had high hopes for the regional after a recent win. He managed to earn a state trip in his first try despite suffering from a lingering illness that sapped his energy and left him contemplating pulling out after four holes. He was 8-over after four and was having trouble swinging the club, Skiers coach Mary Woulfe said.
“He called me over and told me he felt like he wanted to quit,” Woulfe added. “I felt terrible for him.”
“I wanted to help my team. I didn’t want to quit on them,” Moyer added. “I haven’t played since the tournament last week, so I wasn’t going for any score. I just wanted to finish and help the team in any way I could.”
After a Kit Kat and some potato chips, Moyer soldiered on. His persistence nearly yielded a hole-in-one at the 14th; his ball came to rest one foot from the cup, and he converted the birdie. Moyer said he’ll remember the missed putts most.
“I was just too tired too make something of it,” he added. “Around the greens I could feel it a lot. For other shots you just have to aim and make sure you hit it solid, but around the greens you have to think and show some imagination. I’m just a freshman, so I can’t get too mad about today.”
In 4A action Tuesday, Justin Russell (76) earned medalist honors and teammates Brandon Walters (78) and Kaelen Gunderson (78) tied for second to lead Montrose (234) to the team title. Steamboat Springs (241) finished second. All four Montrose golfers finished in the top 13.
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