Knous, Longhorns resume dominance
DURANGO, Colo. On a day when difficult conditions discouraged players and inflated scores, Basalt golfer Jim Knous stood tall again.The senior put together one of the year’s most consistent rounds to win his sixth medal, posting an even-par round of 71 – four strokes clear of Fruita Monument’s Anthony DePalma – at Durango’s 6,800-yard Hillcrest Golf Course.Teammates Connor Rakowski and Marty Knous posted matching 81s to help Basalt win its sixth tournament. Fruita was second, six strokes off the pace, and Grand Junction Central was 12 back after finishing with 245.”Some of the greens out there were really slanted, and they break like no other. It was a real test,” Jim Knous said. “I was just sticking to my game plan, hitting as many greens in regulation as possible.”That plan worked to near perfection, as Knous hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation. Finding the fairway was another story; Knous found the short grass off the tee just four of 14 times.One of those four came at No. 1, where Knous opened his round with a shot that split the fairway. He stuck his second shot and knocked in a 10-footer for birdie. He parred out on the front nine, hitting every green in regulation except for No. 8 and No. 9.He made another strong up-and-down after hooking his approach at the par-4 10th; he hit a flop to 15 feet and drained the putt. He wasn’t so lucky at no. 12 and fell back to even.Knous’ short game saved him at 13 after his approach sailed long, yielding a difficult chip to a back hole location. He completed the up-and-down to start a stretch of three straight pars.He found the sand two different times at No. 16 and bogeyed. Knous’ drive narrowly missed the fairway and rolled into a bunker, right up against the lip. He opened the club face for his second shot, but caught too much sand during the follow through and wound up in a greenside bunker. He hit a second sand shot to 10 feet, but the putt lipped out. Knous rebounded at the 566-yard par-5 17th, hitting a driver more than 300 yards. He pulled his second shot from 250 yards out but, just as he had many times before, Knous executed a strong flop shot and buried a 5-foot downhill bender for birdie to climb back to even.”I never really had the birdie opportunities I usually do, but today I had a few and I capitalized when I could,” Knous said. “My short game was strong today, but there might be more room to improve.”In contrast to his teammate, Rakowski, a one-time medalist this season, struggled to hit greens and finished with 81, well off his usual score.”I just think he’s in a bit of slump right now,” Knous said. “But I know him, and I know he’ll bounce back and come on strong.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Winter sports practices were officially allowed to begin last week, Jan. 18, after the Colorado High School Activities Association was given a variance from the state’s health officials. Games were allowed to be played starting this week.