Poor putting costs Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Poor putting costs Basalt

Jon Maletz

The third hole typified Basalt junior Jim Knous’ round.After he opened play in the Warrior Invitational at Grand Junction’s Tiara Rado Golf Course with a bogey and a par, Knous watched helplessly as his tee shot sailed out of bounds on No. 3. He hit a provisional ball, then, from the fairway, hit his ball to within 6 feet of the cup.Sink the putt and walk away with a hard-fought bogey, he thought. Minimize the damage on the scorecard. Move on. The putt lipped out – a frustrating scene that would be replayed throughout the morning. “I was burning the edge all day,” Knous said with a sigh. “I started out bad and had to fight my way back the whole day.”One day after his 66 led the Longhorns to a consecutive tournament win, Knous shot a 1-over-par 72. He still managed to tie two others for the tournament’s best round and led Basalt to a third-place finish, but Knous’ putting woes would cost him during a two-hole playoff. “He had a five-footer on 18 [on the first hole of the playoff], but left it an inch short,” Basalt coach Pat Riley said. “He had three or four lip-outs today, or he would’ve been right there again.”Knous, 3-over through three holes, strung together five pars before birdying the ninth; he hit an iron from the fairway to within 6 feet and sank the putt. Not surprisingly, though, he missed a 5-foot attempt on the following hole.On one par-5, Knous managed to reach the green in two after a well-executed three-wood off the tee followed by a long iron, but he three-putted from 25 feet.”I didn’t hit that first putt at all,” Knous said. “I got to within five feet after the second, but missed that.”Knous sank a birdie on the back nine to tie Steamboat Springs’ Paul Berry and Fruita Monument’s Chase Nathe for the low round. All three were in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 after their drives, but trouble for Knous lurked on the green.”The greens really sloped back to front, and there were a lot of undulations,” Knous said. “I just wasn’t reading putts well. I wasn’t comfortable.”All three hit short of the green on their second shots. Berry, playing first, chipped his third to within 1 foot and Nathe almost holed out. The pressure was on, Knous remembered. It was clear: He needed an up-and-down to stay alive.Knous hit his chip a little too hard, and it rolled 6 feet past the hole. He read the right to left break perfectly, but his putt came up short – a half-inch short. Knous stood there for an instant, willing the ball to drop. He could’ve waited all day.”Devastating,” Knous said. “I’m so mad at myself.”Junior Connor Rakowski shot 76 and Senior Bryan Mason and Nick Johnson had 82s for the Longhorns (230), who finished behind Steamboat Springs (224) and Fruita Monument (225). Aspen (242), which collectively was 11 strokes better than its tournament showings on Thursday and Monday, finished fifth out of 17. Skiers senior Matt Butler, who struggled through a round of 83 Monday at Junction’s Bookcliff Country Club, rebounded with a 74. Freshman Conor Hansen shot 84, junior Trent Manchester an 84 and sophomore Taylor Huskie an 85. The biggest turnaround came from Aspen’s Gerald Hua who, a day after battling mild heat stroke en route to a 116, improved by 23 strokes.”This is more indicative of what we can really shoot,” Skiers assistant coach Gary Snyder said. “We’re starting to settle in a little.”Butler, who was retooling his swing during his round Monday, was even through three after sinking a 20-foot putt on the par-4 3rd. Butler nearly drove the green on the short Par-4s at 15 and 18, and on both occasions came away with birdies. Although he hovered around par for much of the day, Butler said he gave away too many strokes because of poor iron play. This was no more evident than on the par-5 14th. Butler positioned himself in the fairway off the tee, and hit a second shot 5 yards to the right of the green – the ball rolled under a tree. From there, Butler chipped to the fringe and then onto the putting surface, where he proceeded to 3-putt and walk away with a double bogey.”This is a tough course if you’re hitting the ball off line a little,” Butler said. “I did make some long putts to save par today, but I need to work on my consistency.”Both teams travel to Montrose today for tournaments at the Black Canyon Golf Club on Wednesday and the Links at Cobble Creek on Thursday.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com