Walla sets winning pace for AHS boys golf
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen senior Nate Walla captured his first-ever high school tournament victory Tuesday with a 2-over par round of 73 in the Aspen High School Invitational at the Aspen Golf Club.
Walla’s teammates, sophomore Lawrence Poh and senior Scott Tarbet, proved to be among his closest rivals on the team’s home course, helping AHS to also clinch the team title in the 14-team tourney. Poh shot a career-best 74 to tie Rifle’s Jarrad Brown for second place overall, while Tarbet carded a 77, tying Battle Mountain’s Austin Chow for fourth place.
Aspen’s three-player combined score of 224 lifted AHS to its third team victory in five events this season, three strokes ahead of runner-up Rifle. Battle Mountain was third (243), followed by Roaring Fork (245) and Steamboat Springs (246), while Basalt finished 13th (328).
For Walla, a four-year AHS varsity player, coming up with a winning score felt long overdue. In Aspen’s first tournament of the season at Bookcliff in Grand Junction, he tied four others for the best round before losing in a playoff. Then, at Devil’s Thumb in Delta Aug. 20, Walla’s round of 74 was only good enough for fourth place. And most recently, Aug. 21 at Dos Rios in Gunnison, Walla’s 72 put him one stroke behind the leader.
“Last year, I got like six seconds and no wins, but this year I’m determined to win,” Walla said Tuesday. “I’ve got the confidence up where I can shoot in the 60s if I put my mind to it.”
Walla’s steady round featured just one birdie, a two-putt effort on the par-5 No. 15, along with three bogeys. On the par-4 No. 18, Walla’s approach shot put him within seven feet of the cup, but his birdie-bid putt narrowly slipped past the cup.
“I didn’t make a putt all day, but I’ve got the home-course advantage,” he said.
Poh, meanwhile, drained a 10-foot putt on No. 18 to make par and finish out his best round with the AHS team.
“I missed a big putt at Devils Thumb that cost the team, so I’ve been working on my putting,” he said. “It felt good to hit that last one.”
“It helped being on this course,” Poh continued. “You know where to place the ball, how the putts are going to feel.”
Aspen coach Alden Richards was confident his team would deliver another victory Tuesday, considering the team’s two previous wins, a second and a third-place finish on the season.
“I’d think they would win here ? they practice here six times a week,” Richards said. “But it’s great, they’re playing high-caliber golf and it’s showing.
“If they can all keep their heads on their shoulders, it’s gonna be a great season.”
Mike Jewell of Kiowa in Denver recorded his first-ever hole in one, and the tournament’s only ace. Jewell, a 16-year-old junior, aced the 189-yard No. 8 with a 6-iron, salvaging an otherwise disappointing round of 90.
“It bounced and sat on the edge for a little bit, then dropped in,” he said.
Today, the AHS golf team travels to Glenwood Springs Golf Course for another high school tourney.
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