GYPSUM — Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould describes his relationship with the Gypsum Creek Golf Course as “love-hate.”
But it’s really got to be leaning toward the love side lately. After shooting a 71 to win the 3A regional title last fall at the Pete Dye course, the Saints senior returned on Wednesday with a 4-under 68 to beat all comers — 3A or 4A — at the Eagle Valley Invitational.
“I’ve played it enough to have a good idea of the layout and where to hit it and not to hit it,” Gould said. “I’ve gotten accustomed to some of the shots and try to feed off previous good rounds.”
While Gould and teammate Tony Clark (73) led the 3A ranks individually, Vail Mountain School topped the local schools with a 242, second behind Aspen (235) in the 3A race and ahead of Vail Christian (248).
“Our team is coming together,” said VMS’ Ben Barron, who led the Gore Rangers with a 79. “As our players have come up into high school, we’re getting better and better each year. I’m really happy with that.”
Another cause for satisfaction is that VMS is packing its golfers in, so far this year. Barron had a 79, followed by Oliver Pesso (81) and Sean Weller (82). Dylan Hardenbergh carded an 87 and Tyler Hancock came around in 89.
The only other two schools to have all five players under 90 on Wednesday were Montrose and Steamboat Springs, the teams that went 1-2 in the 4A competition.
Meanwhile, Gould was throwing darts all over the course. He had five tweeters against just one bogey, the latter caused by a wide-left tee shot on No. 5.
His round was a study in course management. Gould pulled driver only twice — the front nine’s par-5s. Most impressively, he took down the mesa — holes 13-17 — in 2-under.
He birdied the par-5 uphill 13th with a 5-iron off the tee, followed by his 6-iron, good chip and a putt. He got another red number with a 260-yard 3-iron off the 14th tee, leaving a nice wedge into that small green. He almost birdied the monstrous par-5 15 but missed a 6-foot putt, settling for a good par.
In all of this, don’t forget Clark. He followed up a team best 78 in the season opener at Battlement Mesa on Thursday with a sleek 73 on Wednesday. What Vail Christian needs is a third golfer for scoring purposes. Those may come as the season progresses with Crane McGuckin and Mason Daniels.
Battle Mountain took third among the 4A squads with a 250. Ryan Hanson led the way with an 80, followed by Wyatt Dilling (83) and Tanner Crisofulli (87). For Crisofulli, that was his first outing of the season, so look for that number to drop.
Eagle Valley’s Keaton Fedrizzi was the pleasant surprise for the Devils with an 87. Tanner Caldarola, the team’s lone returning state-qualifier, carded a 90.
Today, the show shifts to Eagle-Vail, where again driver might not be the best idea off the tee.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.