Knous, Basalt golfers continue hot streak
Basalt’s Jim Knous found himself in quite the predicament.His tee shot on the par-3 9th – the first hole of his playoff with Grand Junction’s Blake Nicholson in a tournament at Montrose’s Black Canyon Golf Club – sailed left and came to rest at the base of a tree. The prospect of losing in a playoff in consecutive days became a very real possibility for the Longhorns junior.Knous hastily looked for openings in the branches. When he found one, he pulled out a wedge and took a chance by executing a flop shot. His ball barely missed the overhanging tree, landed on the green and rolled to within 4 feet of the cup.”I surprised even myself with that shot,” Knous said Wednesday.Blake, whose tee shot also sailed wide, chipped to 8 feet, then missed his third. If Knous sank his putt, he’d walk away the tournament’s top player. A day before, he came up a half-inch short on a putt from the same distance. This time, however, Knous was poised to produce a different result. He was cautious on the downhill left-to-right putt, but hit it firm and watched it disappear into the back of the cup.”I was nervous. If I missed that, I would’ve had a really long come-backer,” Knous said. “It feels really good to come out on top.”For the second time in four tournaments, Knous was the top finisher. His win led Basalt to the team title for the third time in four tournaments. The Longhorns collectively posted a 219 – five strokes lower than their best score thus far – to beat second place Rifle by three. Aspen (238) finished eighth in the 18-team field.Knous, who started at the 10th, recorded birdies at no. 13 and 16 and was 2 under through nine. On the front nine, he struggled to maintain the lead, bogeying No. 3. His drive on the par-4 3rd rolled under a tree, and Knous was forced to chip out from the difficult lie. His iron shot sailed over the green, but he was able to get up and down to prevent further damage.He continued to scramble on his back nine, missing multiple greens, which forced him to escape with hard-fought pars. Knous said he hit 10 greens in regulation during the round.Knous, playing alongside Nicholson, was one shot up heading to No. 9 – the pairing’s 18th hole. Knous’ tee shot on the 205-yard par-3 sailed to the right, and landed in exactly the spot he later said he was trying to avoid. Knous’ flop shot rolled some 30 feet beyond the hole – the best he could possibly do, he said. Knous was able to two-putt for bogey, and he watched Nicholson drain his par putt from 5 feet. Knous took note: Nicholson’s putt was similar to one Knous had to seal the match in the playoff.During the playoff, Knous didn’t miss.”This course was pretty straightforward, and honestly I thought something better than one over was going to win,” Knous said. “I’m happy I pulled it out. I was just so consistent today.”Longhorns No. 3 golfer Nick Johnson, too, displayed his consistency on the flat, tree-lined Black Canyon course. The senior was 5 over par through three holes, but closed with 15 consecutive pars to post 75. Junior Connor Rakowski posted a 73.”We’re just so thrilled,” Basalt coach Pat Riley said. “The guys were ready to play today.”Aspen’s Matt Butler’s 72 was good for a third-place finish – the Skiers’ first medal of the young season. Junior Trent Manchester and sophomore Taylor Huskie had 83s, and freshman Conor Hansen shot 87 for the Aspen team, which posted their best team score of the season.”Team-wise, we’re getting more experience in competitive rounds, and the scores are really coming down,” Aspen head coach Henry Adams said. “We’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”Aspen and Basalt tee off this morning at Montrose’s Links at Cobble Creek. Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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