Devils golfers shine at state
EAGLE — Darn you, Carl Spackler.
Despite some tough conditions at the Pueblo County Club, Eagle Valley golfers Taylor Sandoval and Nicole Matthews put up impressive performances at the 4A state golf tournament earlier this week.
Senior Sandoval shot rounds of 86 and 84 to finish in 20th place, while Matthews picked up two rounds of state experience as a sophomore.
“The conditions were perfect. The weather was great,” Devils coach Blake Scott said. “But the greens keeper double-rolled the greens and they rolled like glass. That was a huge challenge and the course produced a lot of high scores.”
A two-day score of plus-5 won the tournament as the 4A state tournament turned into a U.S. Open held at Pinehurst No. 2.
Issue No. 1 for Sandoval and Matthews and or any other golfer from the western side of the state is that they don’t see fast greens like those at state until, well, they get to the state tournament. There’s no way of simulating high-stimp greens in the high country until the weather turns, which it is finally doing conveniently after the high school season.
Passing the test
The Devils spent a lot of time working on hinged wrists and the accompanying lofted shots to go flag hunting. But golf is just as much a mental test as a physical one.
“Taylor handled it maturely,” Scott said. “Her four years on the golf team showed through. She was disappointed, but she held her head high.”
As anyone who has picked up a golf club knows, golf is a game of disappointment — if, if, if. Yet Sandoval departs as one of the school’s most accomplished golfers and will be going to school at Friends University in Kansas as a part of that school’s first women’s golf team.
Meanwhile, Matthews learned a lesson that will serve her well in her final two years on the team. She struck the ball brilliantly off the tee, averaging 230 yards with her 3-wood. But scoring comes from 100 yards or so in.
“She struggled with her approaches,” Scott said. “She wasn’t hitting bad shots. I’m really proud of her and what she’s already accomplished. You’re going to see her at the top of the leaderboard in the next few years.”
The good news is that short game can be addressed. It’s harder to teach the innate ability to tattoo an orb off the tee.
Scott said that all three members of the team, including Allyson Ludewig, are absolutely devoted to the game. All three have part-time jobs at Eagle Ranch or Gypsum Creek, so they will be spending their summers immersing themselves in the game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.