Battle Mountain, Vail Christian golf qualify three for state tournament | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain, Vail Christian golf qualify three for state tournament

It's hard to pack this much drama into 18 holes, but a trio of local golfers did so earlier this week, and are bound for their state tournaments in October.

Battle Mountain's Jack Oberley locked up the last spot with a birdie on his finale hole to punch his ticket to Flying Horse Golf Course in Colorado Springs, while Vail Christian is sending a pair — Nik Futernick and Connor Downey — to the Boulder Country Club.

Both tournaments are on Oct. 1-2.

Trust it

“I think I have a chance to do well. I’m focusing on not thinking about anything. I need to clear my mind and swing away.”Nik FuternickVail Christian golfer

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At Denver's Indian Peaks Golf Course, Oberley was doing fine until he doubled his eighth and ninth holes. Bad putting on No. 8 carried over to bad shot on the ninth, a fate known by anyone who has ever picked up a golf club.

The Huskies senior knew he was at 43 after his front nine. He set a goal to card a 37 on the back.

"You just have to trust your swing," Oberley said. "If you have any bad thoughts, it will probably go bad."

A reminder that a regional golf tournament is not a PGA Tour stop with scoreboards everywhere. Oberley didn't know he needed a birdie on his last hole, a par-3, but it's probably a good thing he did.

His tee shot on the 16th — it was a shotgun start — cozied up 6 inches from the stick for the tweeter. That gave the senior a 37 on his back nine, as planned, and an 80 for the round.

And 80 was the number just under the cut.

"It's really exciting just because this is my last year," Oberley said. "I'm happy to have this experience."

The season is not over

For Vail Christian senior Futernick, the end of the regular season was an exercise in frustration. He was working on a draw and had taken a lesson to that end. As anyone who takes a golf lesson knows, the first few rounds afterward, it takes a little bit for the instruction to become instinctual.

Futernick hobbled down the stretch working on that draw. The frustration peaked with a ghastly 107 at Keystone.

"I haven't been in the 100s since ninth grade," he said. "I was really excited for golf season to be over."

At regionals at Gunnison' Dos Rios, he chucked his effort to draw the ball and went back to his regular fade. He went 45-40 for an 85, finishing with a birdie and is in the state tourney.

"I think I have a chance to do well," Futernick said. "I'm focusing on not thinking about anything. I need to clear my mind and swing away."

And, yes, he will get back to learning a draw after the season.

Patience, grasshopper

The Saints' Downey is a freshman and he's going to the dance. In his first season on varsity he's learned a reality about high school golf — it's slow. Very slow. Like watching paint-dry slow.

And that was getting to Downey during his back nine at Dos Rios.

"I think I lost a little focus," he said. "The rounds are long and I got mentally tired."

Downey wasn't sure whether his 86 would make it. His group was one of the first of the course, so he got to sit by the scoreboard and wait for the field to come in. When tourney organizers announced that there would be a playoff for golfers who put up 88s, Downey knew he was going to state.

Not so surprisingly, a lot of preparation for state will be mental.

"When I go out, my pace of play is go-go-go," Downey said. "For high school golf, I need to tone it down a bit. I'm going to relax and preset my mind that it's a going to be a longer day."