Vail Valley preps: Fahrenholtz overcomes a tough start
GYPSUM, Colorado – Eagle Valley golf coach Tom Buzbee had Austin Fahrenholtz’s 23-degree hybrid after the Eagle Valley Invitational finished up Thursday at Cotton Ranch in Gypsum.
The only problem was the Buzbee had the head of the club in one hand and the shaft in another. Fahrenholtz broke the club while swinging on the fourth hole, the club head traveling further than the ball. The Eagle Valley junior understandably bogeyed the long par-5.
“That would have been an excusable time to lose composure,” Buzbee said.
Instead, Fahrenholtz started the mesa, Cotton Ranch’s most-demanding stretch of holes, with a birdie on No. 5. He ended up shooting even par on the mesa on his was to a 79, tying him for fourth in the tourney with Battle Mountain’s Michael Wilhelm.
Fahrenholtz and Wilhelm led the locals behind a trio of Steamboat Springs golfers – Kaelen Gunderson (73), Scott Ratch (76), and Alan Capistron (79). The Sailors cruised to the win in 227 strokes, ahead of second-place Battle Mountain (245) and Eagle Valley (248) in third.
Thursday was Redemption Day for Eagle Valley and for Fahrenholtz. The junior shot a 91, ghastly for him, at Wednesday’s tournament at Eagle-Vail. He responded with a 79 24 hours later.
For the first four holes, it looked like it would be more of the same for Fahrenholtz. He bogeyed three of his first four holes, including the busted hybrid on the fourth.
“I can’t start off a tournament really well. I don’t know why,” Fahrenholtz said. “I came about an hour early, and I was hitting everything well on the range, and then I got to hole No. 1. I just kind of fell apart.”
Birdies tend to put a golfer back together. Fahrenholtz drilled a masterful drive on the treacherous fifth to within 150 yards. From there, he hit a pitching wedge to within 25 feet. Although his putter hasn’t been working well recently, it was true this time for the tweeter.
He then parred Nos.. 6 and 7, both holes where the rest of the field found a ton of trouble. After a bogey on the drop-shot eighth, he got that stoke back on the long par-4 ninth.
Fahrenholtz knocked it 280 yards off the tee and his 8-iron landed gently within four feet of the pin. From there, he was just 1-over par on the back nine, including a birdie on the 16th.
Eagle Valley’s Nick Bontempo had a nice bounce-back day. He had a good round going Wednesday at Eagle-Vail before he lived a golfer’s nightmare on 18. Bontempo just couldn’t get off the par-5’s tee box. He kept on slicing the ball into the hill side, and finished the day with an 11 on his card. A possible round in the 70s had turned into an 88.
Thursday, Bontempo avoided the blow-up hole, going out in 43 and coming back in 42 for an 85.
“As a sophomore, it’s impressive,” Buzbee said. “Nick is new to competitive golf. You like to see that in a sophomore. That tells you it’s only going to get better. It’s not going to get worse than (Wednesday).”
Dustin Arguello carded an 84 for the Devils, despite a quadruple bogey on the par-5 13th.
Earning a spot
On Wednesday and Thursday, Battle Mountain’s Wilhelm has vaulted himself from an unknown freshman to a varsity golfer. He shot a 79 Wednesday at Eagle-Vail, playing on the Huskies second JV team. Thursday, he did it again as a varsity golfer.
Wilhelm is a soft-spoken kid off the golf course, and that demeanor apparently carries over to tournaments.
“He’s just so confident,” Battle Mountain coach Cassie Desmone said. “I love seeing that. I was talking to him during the middle of the round, asking him how he was doing. He just said, ‘I’m 4-over.’ I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He has a beautiful swing.”
So does Cameron Brown, but he struggled to an 80. Accustomed to the 60s and 70s, Brown got bit by the mesa holes, and finished in sixth place.
“He lost it on the sixth, getting his first seven,” Desmone said. “He wants to be No. 1, so even thought he had a couple of good recoveries, it was devastating to watch. Sometimes, you can’t say anything.”
Edgar Gaspar rounded out the Huskies scoring with an 84.
Vail Mountain’s Alex Bard won medalist honors Wednesday at Eagle-Vail, but couldn’t duplicate his effort Thursday with an 88 at Cotton Ranch.
Both the Devils and Huskies will be sending their younger golfers to The Hill in Glenwood Springs on Monday, while their varsity players swing through Delta and Montrose on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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