Vail Valley Preps: Huskies golf conquers Haymaker
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado a” Battle Mountain’s Cameron Brown said he aplastereda his putt during Wednesday’s three-way playoff on the 18th hole of the Haymaker Golf Club in Steamboat Springs.
Teammate Michael Wilhelm had a different point of view.
aI thought it was good,a he said. aIt was a good thing he didn’t leave it short.a
Because as the baseball sage Yogi Berra said, aNinety percent of short putts don’t do in.a
Brown’s putt didn’t go in, but wasn’t too long, either. The senior came back with a clutch putt for a birdie on the par-5 to break the three-way tie among Battle Mountain, Steamboat and Montrose at 234 strokes, giving the Huskies a tournament win.
With Brown carding a 75, Wilhelm a 77 and Dillon McDonald coming home in 82, the Huskies won their second tournament of the season. Eagle Valley (248), topped by 82s from Jalen Aquino and Nick Bontempo, took eighth, and the Vail Mountain School was 17th with 280 strokes.
Circles and squares
Brown’s birdie in the playoff was quite a recovery, given what he had been through during the end of his round. He was a sensational 4-under-par through 11 holes and 3-under through 13.
And then came five straight holes of bogey or double. The real trouble started on the 15th when his 3-wood off the tee went into a hazard, leading to double. Brown actually hit the ball too well on 16 when he wanted to hit his 3-wood only 300 yards, but it went farther, finding the drink. He three putted No. 17, a par-3, and bogeyed the par-5 18th.
But on his second crack of the day on the home hole in the playoff, Brown cranked out a birdie and the team win.
For Brown, it was a strange day also in that he played the par-5s during his regular round in even par. A long hitter, the senior generally uses the three-shoters to visit the bird sanctuary.
Instead, Brown devoured par-4s on Wednesday. He took apart both Nos. 3 and 4, both more than 400 yards, with long drives. His approach shots on the two holes were with 52- and 60-degree wedges. He had putts of 7 and 5 feet and birdies.
Brown looked like he was going really low Wednesday when he strung together three tweeters on Nos. 9-11. The ninth was his only non-playoff par-5 birdie of the day and he drove the green on the 11th.
aI don’t feel like the wheels fell off,a Brown said. aI felt I hit a perfect shot on 15. It was just frustrating. I hit 14 greens and then missed the last four. I think my putts lipped out on three of the last four holes.a
While Brown was going through some serious ups-and-downs, freshman Wilhelm was his steady self. He had eight pars and a bogey on the front, going out in 37. He added four more pars to start the back before he encountered the same tough patch that Brown did. Wilhelm bogeyed Nos. 14-17 and bounced pack for a par on the last.
aIt was into the wind and it was long,a Wilhelm said. aI just couldn’t get the yardages right.a
Joking that he was ajust trying to get lower than 79,a Wilhelm used his short game very effectively to scramble when he missed greens in regulation.
The subplot to Thursday’s round was that Haymaker is the site of regionals on Sept. 22. And this brought about a rather stunning development from Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee to his team.
Gentlemen, start your drivers.
aI’d say they hit their driver more this round than they did in the last three rounds,a Buzbee said. aThey were happy to see they could keep it in play and it got to the point where they were being aggressive, testing some of the holes with driver. That’s why we came here.a
Buzbee has been preaching careful course management this season, especially at loops like Eagle-Vail, Cotton Ranch and Devil’s Thumb in Delta, preaching to his players to use long irons and hybrids off the tee. Wednesday, Eagle Valley let the big dog eat.
Using the tournament more as a scouting expedition for regionals, Buzbee was pleased with 82s from both Bontempo and Aquino and an 84 from Kevin Stough. The coach feels that there’s room for scores to go down, not only for regionals, but in today’s tournament in Craig at the Yampa Valley Golf Course.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.