Vail Valley preps golf: Jones and Sapp make the state tournament
Eagle Valley’s Barrett Jones and Vail Mountain School’s Finn Sapp are going to the show.
The two golfers qualified for the state tournament on Monday, Sept. 18, at their respective regional tournament. Jones shot a 74 at The Bridges in Montrose, while Sapp carded a 78 at Devil’s Thumb in Delta.
Jones will be at the 4A state tournament at Raccoon Creek in Littleton for Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 2-3. Meanwhile, Sapp punched his ticket to the 3A dance at Indian Peaks in Lafayette on the same dates.
Three is an important number
It’s really not a surprise that Jones qualified for state. He tied for seventh, the highest finish by an Eagle County golfer on the state stage, at last year’s tourney.
It was simply a matter of the senior putting up a number at the clubhouse at the end of the day.
With the stipulation that Jones’ “bad” golf is better than most peoples’ good days, he was inconsistent on the front nine. He started with a birdie, then bogeyed his next hole and had a double after that. He then went birdie-bogey. He shot a 4-over-par 40 on the front, which would easily be on pace to make state, but not to the Eagle Valley senior’s exacting standards.
“I was kind of all over the place,” Jones said. “I wasn’t too thrilled. I didn’t play well on the front nine. I settled down on the back.”
He had two birdies and one bogey on the back for a 34.
Jones tied for seventh with Rifle’s Jacob Smith, and easily qualified as an individual for the state tournament. Jones can go low. Even when he’s struggling with his game, he has the ability to pop out birdies. The issue, he says, is his iron play from 200 yards and in.
Like most golfers, he keeps stats on everything. His goal is three — as in three shots from 200 yards or so to get in the hole. Ideally, that’s hitting the green with his short irons and two-putting with the birdie chance thrown in here and there.
Conveniently, Jones lives very close to the driving range at Eagle Ranch. He will be working on those irons there and in rounds with his dad.
Jones is no stranger to Raccoon Creek, the state site.
“Oh, yes, I’ve played there during summer (junior) tournaments,” he said. “I’ve done well at that course. I like it. I can go low there.”
State is just one of two big tournaments on Jones’ schedule. He’s also set to play in the Junior Golf Alliance Colorado Tour Championship at Cherry Hills on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8.
For a good portion of Monday’s round, Vail Mountain’s Sapp did not think that he was going to make state.
The sophomore did not consult the internet on his phone to look at scores from his round at Devil’s Thumb. That is allowed by CHSAA rules, but Sapp wanted to focus on his next shot.
Besides, if you’ve played as much golf as Sapp has, then you know roughly what your score is anyway. That score was 9-over-par through 12 holes.
“After that triple bogey (on my 12th hole), I was kind of like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it. Just try to finish the day a bit better.’”
As weekend duffers and dedicated students of golf such as Sapp know, it just takes one swing to turn everything around. That swing came on a 170-yard, par-3. Sapp went with 9-iron on that downhill and stuck it within 10 feet of the cup. He nearly birdied the hole, but a par after a triple is just what the doctor ordered.
It really doesn’t hurt when you follow that par with an eagle, as Sapp did on the ensuing par-5 by chipping in from the rough for a three.
“I’ve got some hope left,” Sapp said of the eagle. “The next hole, I had a really good up-and-down. I had a really good two-putt on a par-3.”
And he played his final six holes in 3-under par for a 78 and a ticket to state.
Sapp may have some company at state. VMS senior Jordan Harrison shot an 85 and is the first alternate from the Western Slope for state.
In the past at the 3A level, the first alternate has gotten a bid to state, but nothing is guaranteed until Harrison checks CHSAA.org and sees his name on the state start sheet. Everyone with VMS has their collective fingers crossed.
“I want Jordan to get it,” Sapp said. “He been working his whole high school career for it.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.