Vail Valley preps: Wilhelm fires a 72 at Montrose
MONTROSE – If anyone wants to do well at the 4A Slope golf regionals this year at Cobble Creek, he’s going to have to go low. Really low, if Thursday’s regular-season tournament was any indication.
Battle Mountain’s Michael Wilhelm fired a beautiful even-par 72 from the tips of the course – 6,970 yards – and finished fourth.
“I definitely can’t be mad,” Wilhelm said.
Nope. That was the sophomore’s best round in high-school competition, and everyone will be back later this month for a practice round and then the actual regional tournament.
Consider this a base point as golf season hits the stretch drive. Class 5A Fruita won Thursday’s tournament with a ridiculously-low score of 219. That’s 3-over par for the team.
Durango (5A) and Monezuma-Cortez (4A) tied for second at 226 with 4A Montrose, the host at 233. Thus, Cortez and Montrose are the favorites in the region, unless any other team proves otherwise later this month.
Eagle Valley ended up edging out Battle Mountain, 241-243, finishing eighth out of a crowded field of 28 teams. The Devils’ Tin Men – Austin Fahrenholtz and Dustin Arguello both cracked 80 with 79s. Nick Bontempo – gotta find a “Tin” somewhere in his name – had a nice bounce-back day with an 83, considerably better than his 92 Wednesday at Devil’s Thumb in Delta.
Battle Mountain’s Andrew Sady fired an 84 and Mike Jones was at 87 for a team score of 243.
That said, definitely look for Battle Mountain’s score to go down at everyone heads to Haymaker in Steamboat Springs and Yampa in Craig next week. The McDonald brothers – Dillon and Brady will be back, giving the Huskies their full team for the first time in nearly a month.
As the putter turns
After he had a two-putt birdie on 18 at Devil’s Thumb on Wednesday, Fahrenholtz believed that he was turning the corner with his venerable Scotty Cameron putter. Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee was also feeling good about his senior turning around things with the flat blade.
Thursday brought about more evidence that Fahrenholtz is righting the ship – in fits and starts. How else does one explain a nice 15-foot birdie putt on his third hole of the day, a three-putt on a par-5 he reached in two shots and then dropping a 40-footer for a clutch par save on his 12th hole of the day?
This is a maddening game.
“I think it’s mental,” Fahrenholtz said. “I need to think about speed. I’ve been thinking about where to putt it first before thinking about speed.”
Despite the ups and downs, Fahrenholtz, who is Eagle Valley’s only returning state qualifier, found himself in the 70s along with Arguello at 79.
Eagle Valley golf is coming to an interesting point in the season with four regular-season tournaments remaining. Bontempo, despite what Buzbee called a “hiccup” Wednesday at Devil’s Thumb, likely has the lowest scoring average for the Devils. Fahrenholtz and Arguello are battling it out for the second and third spots.
That leaves Stuart Rasmussen and Cooper Senn roughly in spots Nos. 4-5, with only four going to regionals. Adding a wrinkle, these five are off next week, as Eagle Valley’s red team will be going to Haymaker in Steamboat and Yampa in Craig. Buzbee wants to see if anyone from that second five can play their way into Rasmussen’s and/or Senn’s spots as the coach puts together his four for the final tournaments of the regular season at Aspen and at Lakota Canyon in New Castle.
“It makes for a little drama as we wait here,” Buzbee said.
After bogey on the first, Wilhelm served notice that he was on Thursday on the par-3 third, draining a 30-footer for the first of five birdies on the day. After another long putt for a tweeter on No. 5, Wilhelm had his only serious trouble of the day on the nine.
He found the drink off the tee – which is an easy thing to do given that the hole is pretty much surrounded by water. That led to Wilhelm’s only double of the day and a 38 on the front.
Wilhelm showed no ill effects double, promptly putting up a birdie on No. 10. A 52-degree wedge to 3 feet of the hole generally brightens one’s outlook. The sophomore picked up back-to-back birds on Nos. 14 and 15 before a minor bobble on 17 for a level 72.
“I’m definitely going in with confidence at regionals,” Wilhelm said. “It’s a really playable golf course. Last year, I played here from the blues (6,395 yards), and this year it was the golds. I’ve gained a lot of yardage from last year.”
With the McDonald boys, who are generally in the 70s, back in the fold next week, it will be interesting to the Huskies with their full complement. It also will set off a mad scramble for the fourth spot among Sady, Jones, William Thompson and Alex Bard, at regionals.
In the meantime, Thursday’s tournament was a nice run through for the Huskies.
“They were taking good notes on the course,” Battle Mountain coach Cassie Desmone said. “They’re figuring out what to hit at 204 or 205 (yards), whether that’s a 4- or a 5-iron.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.