Aspen’s Teddy Karlinski finishes second at 4A state golf tournament
No expectations. No second chances. Aspen senior Teddy Karlinski didn’t blink Tuesday afternoon when he found himself tied for the lead after two rounds at the 4A Boys State Golf Championship at the Wellshire Golf Course in Denver.
Karlinksi said he didn’t have a reason to be nervous. Having never qualified for state before this year, he’d come into the tournament with expectations only of playing well.
“I just wanted to play my own game,” Karlinski said. “I wanted to play the way I’ve been playing lately.”
Karlinski delivered on his own promise, firing back-to-back rounds of 71 to earn the championship playoff with Steamboat Springs’ Paul Berry and Greeley Central’s Nick Umholtz.
Berry went out after the first hole, which left Karlinski and Umholtz locked in a struggle that would last six more holes. On the seventh playoff hole, a par four, Karlinski and Umholtz both reached the green in two shots. Karlinski, with a 40-foot putt in front of him, opted to play it safe by putting to within eight feet of the hole. Umholtz had a 20-foot putt, which he missed but tapped in the next shot for par. Reading the lie on his par putt, Karlinski guessed that the green broke a little to the left, so he aimed his putt to the right edge of the cup.
The putt never broke. The ball hit the right side of the cup, then lipped out, giving the state title to Umholtz. Karlinski, who also lost in a playoff at the Western Slope regional to Berry, said he wasn’t at all disappointed afterward.
His coach, Henry Adams, and his mother, Suzie, were feeling the pressure during all seven playoff holes, but Karlinski remained calm – even after his final putt teased him then trickled out of the hole.
“I’m so stoked right now,” he said afterward. “I can’t explain it. So happy. I didn’t have any expectations. I just played my same game and I played super consistent. I let everyone else make the mistakes.”
Adams was also overjoyed by the result.
“This is way beyond expectations. We’ve got the second best golfer in the state at Aspen High School, and I am really proud of him,” Adams said.
Without a full team to coach in Denver, Adams noted that he and Karlinski were in a “unique situation” as player and coach.
“It was an opportunity for both of us to come up with a good plan and try and win the tournament,” he said. “I think we did a pretty good job. Teddy executed great golf course management.”
Added Karlinski, “Henry was great. It was super helpful to have him there.”
Karlinski’s first-round score left him tied for third Monday with Umholtz. On Tuesday, both golfers shot the same score, only to watch the two golfers in front of them after Monday’s round – Roaring Fork’s Adam Joiner and Steamboat Springs’ Berry – struggle to match their opening rounds.Joiner blew up, shooting a final-round 78 Tuesday after his 67 on Monday to finish in a tie for fourth. Berry finished with a round of 72 to put him in the three-way playoff.
The Steamboat Springs golfer blew his shot at a state title, however, on the first playoff hole when his tee shot flew out of bounds.Karlinski said the Wellshire course was a little narrower than courses he’s used to playing on the Western Slope. There were a number of tall trees lining the fairways, making straight tee shots mandatory.
Knowing he had little room for errors, Karlinksi didn’t make any. At least not any big ones.
“I didn’t have any blow-up holes,” Karlinski said. “I think the worst score was a double-bogey on the first day.”
Also, after playing in a playoff with Berry at the regional, Karlinski said he was more prepared for the playoff at state. Berry’s errant tee shot on the first playoff hole was also a huge confidence boost. Basalt finishes 11thThe Basalt boys team also had a strong finish to its season Tuesday, as all four varsity golfers combined for a team score of 469 – good for 11th place.
Coach Pat Riley noted expectations for next season are sky high, considering all four of his state qualifiers return.
Sophomore Jim Knous had the best individual score, finishing with rounds of 77 and 73 to end up in 19th place. Fellow sophomore Connor Rakowski wasn’t far behind, shooting a 79 on Monday, followed by a 74 Tuesday to finish 32nd overall.
Junior Nick Johnson shot two rounds of 83 and junior teammate Bryan Mason shot a 86 on Monday, capped by an 88 on Tuesday.
“We didn’t do as well as we’ve done this year, but it was just really great to be there,” Riley said. “There’s a lot of great golfers there and we’ll be back next year.”
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