AURORA -- The golf season might not have kicked off the way Behrod Keshtavar envisioned, but it is finishing better than he could have dreamed.
The Peak to Peak golfer's new and improved game has taken the late season by storm, a fact more than evident Tuesday at CommonGround Golf Course. While he did not card the score he was shooting for, the ace's swing was sweet enough to earn him top honors at what many consider the year's toughest round.
Setting the front nine on fire, Keshtavar earned a share of the Class 3A Metro Regional title. And in the process, the junior might have sent some chills up the spines of his upcoming state competition.
"I'm happy with what I was able to achieve," Keshtavar said. "It's been a real turnaround from a lackluster start."
His 1-under at the par-71 course knotted him up with one other golfer, Kent Denver's Ben Moore. And it marked the second time Keshtavar has knocked off two-time defending 3A state champion Ethan Freeman, also of Kent.
The Puma was particularly impressed with his regular-season win over Freeman, given it was one of his best rounds of the year. Keshtavar won the last Metro League match of the season Sept. 10 at the same course, shooting 2-under. Keshtavar attributes improved confidence as one of the reasons why he has surged. But there are other factors in play, he said.
"What really came together was my driver and my putting," he said. "I've worked on my putting. As far as driving, I originally had a seven-and-a-half degree driver and I changed it to nine. The change really straightened out my drives."
Keshtavar will have company Oct. 1-2, at Denver's Pinehurst Country Club for the 3A state tournament, with teammate Jack Cavanagh earning his spot by carding a 79 and finishing 10th on Tuesday. Peak to Peak just missed getting a scoring squad to state when third golfer Max Clark was eliminated from a five-way playoff for the final three individual qualifying spots with a double bogey on the first playoff hole.
"It's tough, because this is his third year riding the bubble," said Peak to Peak coach John Thornbury, whose team placed third at the regional.
Holy Family had to endure another second-place finish to Kent Denver -- the Tigers' sixth of the season. But few Tigers were up in arms Tuesday about second-fiddle status. First, because the finish earned the team a state berth. But also because of how close they finished to the Sun Devils.
Only four strokes separated Holy Family from Kent, the narrowest margin of the season since the Tigers knocked off their rivals in the first league match of the year.
"It's something for our guys to be proud of," Holy Family coach Will Wilson said. "Especially when (Kent) has one guy shoot under par."
Tyler Lucero was Holy Family's top shooter, finishing the afternoon at 1-over. The Tiger was steady on his way to tying for third, recording 16 pars on his loop. But more than anything, the senior was happy to finish his round. He was not so lucky the last time he played at CommonGround.
"In the last league match, I withdrew after eight holes," Lucero said. "I was feeling really sick, with the flu all last week and was feeling really woozy."
The round was a confidence booster for Lucero, who had not shot a full 18-holes in two weeks. But there was more buoying the senior than just his regional finish. Creeping up on Kent late in the season, Lucero believes the Tigers are ready to pounce come state.
"We feel like we're coming on," he said. "We're hungry."
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Class 3A Metro Regional
At CommonGround G.C., par 71
Team scores -- Kent Denver 224, Holy Family 228, Peak to Peak 233, Lutheran 234, Colorado Academy 256, Cheyenne Wells 261, Front Range Christian 263, Jefferson Academy 266, Stausburg 266, Machbeuf 266, Kiow 303, Lake County 347.
State qualifiers -- t1. Behrod Keshtavar, Peak to Peak, 70; t1. Ben Moore, Kent Denver, 70; t3. Jack Cummings, Faith Christian, 72; t3. Tyler Lucero, Holy Family, 72; 5. Hayden Nicholaides, Lutheran, 73; t6. Ethan Freeman, Kent Denver, 76; t6. Blake Bollman, Holy Family, 76; t8. Tyler Davis, Denver Christian, 78; t8. Payton De Vencenty, Lutheran, 78; t8. Will Fehr, Kent Denver, 78; t11. Jared Sloan, Front Range Christian, 79; t11. Jack Cavanugh, Peak to Peak, 79; t11. Josh Repine, Kent Denver, 79; t14. Sam Robinson, Jefferson Academy, 80; t14. Conor Stanley, Holy Family, 80; 16. Joey Bartoletti, Holy Family 82; 17. Sid Martinez, Lutheran, 83; t18. Nathan Vaughn, Lutheran, 84; t18. Joe Monahan, Colorado Academy, 84; t18. Landon Esarey, Cheyenne Wells, 84.
Alternates -- 1. Tim Scherman, Colorado Academy, 84; 2. Max Clark, Peak to Peak, 84.
Other Peak to Peak score -- Cos Braswell 90.