VAIL — It’s two weeks and counting until regionals at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course, and the 3A race is looking like a photo finish. Seriously, pick names out of a hat.
Basalt’s Tristan Rohrbaugh fired a 2-under 69 Tuesday at the Vail Mountain School Invitational at the Vail Golf Club to lead the Longhorns to their third-consecutive tournament win with 234 strokes.
While Basalt has the hot hand right now, Vail Christian was just four strokes off the pace at 238, followed by Aspen (241). Class 4A Summit County interrupted the 3A-fest with a 243, and VMS was in the mix, punching in a 246.
Rohrbaugh ran away and hid from the field when it came to individual honors Tuesday. He birdied the par-4 first and bogeyed the par-3 seventh, the latter being a head-slapper. (Par-3s for these guys better be 3s or 2s.)
The Basalt senior rallied nicely on his first par-5 of the day — No. 8. He bombed his driver 280 yards and reached the apron of the green with a 9-iron. That 9-iron is also an effective club around the putting surface. Rohrbaugh used the trusty club for a chip-in and an eagle.
From there, he parred the final 11 holes. Though Rohrbaugh said he had several lip-outs on putts on the back and could have gone lower, boring golf is good golf.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’ve been playing pretty well the last two weeks. I’ve won my last five tournaments. I’ve been striking the ball well the last couple of weeks. I made a swing change two weeks ago, so that could be it.”
Said swing change came courtesy of Dad, aka Doug Rohrbaugh, who is the head golf pro at the Ironbridge Golf Club. And that’s where Tristan Rohrbaugh’s streak began. He won the Ironbridge Club Championship, high school tourneys at Devil’s Thumb and Cobble Creek, followed by a win last weekend at the Rifle Open and Vail on Tuesday.
Basalt’s Peter Steckler fired a 79 and Roger Gauthier came around with an 86 for the Longhorns’ third-team win in a row.
Vail Christian wasn’t at either Devil’s Thumb or Cobble Creek, due to the schedule. But the Saints were right in it Tuesday.
Cooper Gould was second in the individual honors with a 76. He had no birdies and was 1-over through 12 holes before he lost a few strokes.
“It was a pretty boring round,” Gould said. “Sorry.”
No apologies needed, Coop.
Like Rohrbaugh, Gould has been tweaking his swing.
“I honestly feel like I’ve been making good changes,” he said. “I decided to swing with what I have and not over-think. I like my swing and can get in a groove for regionals and state.”
Vail Christian’s Tony Clark was part of a logjam at 79, and Parker Poage had a bit of an off day with an 83.
Aspen’s Clayton Crawford led the Skiers with a 77. He was in a position to go lower after birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, before running into trouble on the par-5 18th.
“I was going for the green in two,” Crawford said. “I hit (my approach shot) just left, and it hit the trees and went into the long grass. I don’t really regret the decision. I would go for it again. I just would go for the front of the green and take a club less.”
Will Hazen and Patrick Martin carded a 77 and 79, respectively, for third-place Aspen.
And if these names are sounding familiar, well, these are some of the same guys who topped the leaderboard at the Eagle Valley Invite at Gypsum Creek last month. Refreshing your memory, Gould, Rohrbaugh and Steckler all finished with 78s at the regional site on Aug. 14.
As far as 3A team scores in Gypsum that day, Vail Mountain nipped Vail Christian, 242-244, with Basalt (245) and Aspen (247) right behind. It is anyone’s tournament come Sept. 17.
A name to remember from that day was VMS’ Oliver Pesso. The sophomore shot an 80 at Gypsum and did the same Tuesday at Vail. Pesso ran into big trouble on No. 5 with a wayward tee shot, which managed to hit one of the poles holding up a net by that tee box. Naturally, the shot careened right and went out of bounds. Having to re-tee, Pesso regrouped nicely.
“I have a technique to focus and think about hitting a better shot and getting it together,” he said. “After that, I had par-par-birdie. I got it together.”
Pesso’s 80 was a season-best, as was Dylan Hardenberg’s 82. VMS’s Harrison Alonzo carded an 84.
The next stop for Eagle County’s four golf teams is Haymaker up in Steamboat Springs on Thursday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.