Golf: Skiers feeling no pressure entering state tournament
For a group comprised entirely of underclassmen, the Aspen High School boys golf team has an impressively chill temperament heading into the Class 3A state golf tournament.
It may be young, but the foursome headed to Saddle Rock Golf Course in Aurora today and Tuesday is far from inexperienced.
“I’m not too worried about it. Just treat it like another tournament,” Aspen sophomore Dawson Holmes said. “With three sophomores and a freshman, we are going to be one of the youngest teams there. I think we know a lot about golf and have very high golf IQs, so it’s not going to change a whole lot.”
Joining Dawson, a first-time state qualifier, on the Front Range are fellow sophomores Dominic Lanese and Jack Hughes as well as freshman Jack Pevny. The Skiers qualified for the state tournament after winning its eighth regional tournament in a row last week at Devil’s Thumb Golf Course in Delta, with all four golfers shooting sub-80 rounds.
“We just put our heads down and got the job done,” Hughes said. “Eight in a row for the school, that’s a pretty cool legacy for us to carry on. That was really cool. It’s such a young team to do it.”
While Dawson and Pevny are headed to state for the first time, Lanese and Hughes both went last season as part of a team that finished third overall in 3A. In 2015, Aspen shot 480 over the two days, finishing behind Kent Denver (462) and state champion Peak to Peak (453).
Will Hazen, a senior last season, led Aspen with a second-place 150 (78-72). Hughes was second on the team a year ago, shooting 163 (81-82) to tie for 22nd place. Lanese — who won the regional tournament as a freshman — tied for 30th with 168, overcoming an 88 on the first day of the tournament.
His goal this week is to find redemption.
“Last year, I kind of had a rough time after regionals. I don’t know; I wasn’t feeling it, I guess. This year, I’m excited,” Lanese said. “If you play a bad first round, it’s obviously going to carry over to your next round. But if you play good, you’re going to have some momentum going into that second day.”
Aspen understands there still will be nerves out on the course both days, but it also understands there is no pressure to perform well. While the Skiers are a factor most years, the attention is likely to be paid to schools such as Kent Denver, Sterling and Lutheran, whose golfers will be the last to tee off from the first hole today.
“It’s just kind of showcasing what you have as a team. I don’t think there is much pressure, and I’m pretty excited to go,” Pevny said. “Make it two worthwhile rounds. Instead of going down there nervous and having bad rounds because of the spotlight of states, I guess put down the best score you can.”
Saddle Rock, known for its length, is familiar ground for the Skiers. They played at a tournament there earlier this season, and most of the golfers have even played there prior to this season. The course was designed by Dick Phelps; his company, Phelps-Atkinson Golf Course Design, also designed both Devil’s Thumb in Delta and the Aspen Golf Course.
“Anything better than fourth place for us this year is realistically going to be a really good showing. If we can get top three, we will really be liking it,” Aspen golf coach Mary Woulfe said. “They are still young and have a tremendous amount to learn, but their fundamentals are really solid. There is very little pressure on us. We can go down and have a good time, try to post some low numbers.”
Joining Aspen out of the Western Slope at the 3A state tournament are Delta and Basalt, both fielding full teams, a three-man group from Cedaredge and a pair from Telluride.
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