EAGLE-VAIL — Give it up for Mike Jones.
The Battle Mountain alum who works summers at the Eagle-Vail Golf Club said Monday the winning score for Tuesday’s Battle Mountain Invitational would be a 77.
One off, Mike. Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould won it with a 76, while Battle Mountain’s Taylor Peel checked in a the magic number of 77, leading the Huskies to a team win — their first of the season.
“I didn’t think I was winning,” Gould said. “I wasn’t playing really well, but I knew everyone was struggling. The course was set up in a difficult way. I had to stay in it and scrape out a round.”
Tuesday was not for the faint of heart, nor was it meant to be. Eagle-Vail is not driver-friendly for a lot of the field. The greens are fast and hard, making chipping and the flat blade a bit of adventure.
It’s no coincidence that Peel finished the day with just 27 putts, and that put him right behind Gould.
“I never found a groove hitting the ball,” Peel said. “I putted the ball really well, and they saved my round.”
Scores jumped Tuesday
The scores, even with some of the best golfers on the slope, ballooned at Eagle-Vail. Just compare Tuesday’s scores to those of Monday’s at Lakota Canyon on Monday.
• Clayton Crawford, Aspen, 76 Monday; 79 Tuesday.
• Ty Caron, Rifle, 77-82.
• Harrison Alonzo, Vail Mountain, 78-86.
• Ethan Haga, Gunnison, 79-87.
Vail Christian won Monday’s tournament with a score of 235. Tuesday, the Saints shot a 256 and finished sixth. VMS went from 246 to 257 and was seventh. Individuals and teams alike will likely file Tuesday’s round under the category of “We shall never speak of this again.”
Peel gets warmed up
Peel is new to Battle Mountain from Augusta, Ga. And in answer to your first question, no, he’s never played at Augusta National, but he has been to the Masters as a spectator. His family moved here about six weeks ago, and the junior and his uncle got passes for Eagle-Vail, so he knows the course.
As with anyone moving from sea level, Peel enjoys the altitude. On the other hand, the weather’s a bit different.
“Honestly, the warm-ups in the morning, it’s chilly,” he said. “My hands are cold. The grips are cold. You can’t get warmed up as easy.”
But an extra 15 yards or so in the driver tends to warm one’s spirits.
And it all came together for Peel and the Huskies Tuesday.
“It was a good one,” Peel said. “We pulled it out. When we first came in, we didn’t know. The other dudes really pulled through.”
Said dudes would be Tanner Crisofulli and Mitch Lee with 82s.
Meanwhile, Gould only pulled driver three times on Tuesday, using hybrids off the tee. He dropped a 40-foot bomb of a putt on No. 5 for birdie and also visited the aviary on the par-4 12th.
“The greens were rolling nice, very fast,” Gould said. “You could see people missing in the wrong spots, and once you miss, that can lead to a high number.”
Mixing up the lineup
Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee, especially during heavy stretches of the season like this week, often likes to change out his lineup. That was the case Tuesday, as he gave his younger kids their first varsity start.
The good news for the Devils, and everyone else who struggled at Eagle-Vail, is that everyone goes at it again today at the Eagle Valley Invitational at Gypsum Creek.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.