BROOMFIED — It was an inauspicious beginning to state the least.
On the first hole and on his first swing on Thursday morning in the Class 5A Western Regional, the head of Daniel Pearson's hybrid flew off the shaft. Down the first fairway it went.
"It went bump, bump, bump, straight out," said his father, Tony.
The son kept his cool.
"It was crazy," he said. "(The ball) actually went into the rough, but it went the same distance it usually does. I swung through and didn't know what happened. It was weird, the first hole of regionals, which is kind of a nervous little thing anyway."
While his club came unglued, Pearson didn't. He went on to fire a brilliant 6-under-par 66 at The Broadlands Golf Course to take medalist honors and also lead Fairview to the team title, both crowns by a stroke over Lakewood. Pearson was able to outlast the Tigers' Griffin Barela (67) and the Knights edged Lakewood on the first sudden-death playoff hole.
On a glorious late summer day, Pearson shined like the sun and continued his steps toward a big-school title.
"He's a threat to be (state) medalist," Knights coach Jay Capaul said. "He's the man and he has been pointing to this. He wants it bad."
A four-time state qualifier, Pearson was a middle-of-the-pack finisher three years ago, seventh as a sophomore and 11th last year.
"I just have to play well," he said.
He certainly did on Thursday — Pearson had only 29 putts, hit a whopping 16 greens and made 12 fairways. And he needed all of it as Barela, a regular playing partner and foe, matched Pearson shot-for-shot.
The biggest turning point came on No. 17, where Barela hit his tee and approach shots into bunkers, only to come up with a slick sand save for par. Pearson watched it, then drilled a 20-foot, downhill birdie putt that hit the hole hard, bounced up a bit and fell in.
"I knew I needed to birdie one of the last two holes because Griffin doesn't make many bogeys," Pearson said.
Both players parred in. Plus, three of the Knights' four players parred on the first extra hole to edge the Tigers in the team chase.
"This was a very tough regional," Capaul said.
Both Fairview and Lakewood totaled 218 in regulation. Andrew Perry (74), Will Branan (78) and Miles Murphy (82) each had strong outings for the Knights.
Legacy (244) was seventh as a team andonly able to have Grant Hoos (79) and Ben McCormick (80) be named first and second alternates, respectively, as the few final individual spots also require extra holes.
The state gathering will be Sept. 26-27 at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction.
Capaul, who said "this is my last rodeo," as he'll be retiring, said Pearson "always gives you a good ride."
Pearson, who will play next year at Nebraska, said he knows "this is my last high-school season, my last regional, my last state ... I want to play well and see what happens."
Class 5A Western Regional
At Broadlands Golf Course
Team scores — Fairview and Lakewood 218, Regis Jesuit 223, Chaparral 230, Mountain Vista and Smoky Hill 234, Legacy 244, Chatfield 260, Arvada West and Rocky Mountain 263, Palmer 269, Rangeview 288, Greeley West 299, Aurora Central NC.
Top individuals — Daniel Pearson, Fairview, 66; Griffin Barela, Lakewood, 67; Justin Markel, Regis Jesuit, 70; Chris Raap, Mountain Vista 72; Jack Castiglia, Lakewood, 73; Nichols Neff, Chaparral, 73; Andrew Perry, Fairview, 74; Kyle Colen, Smoky Hill, 75; Christopher Kennedy, Smoky Hill, 76; Cam Nagel, Rocky Mountain, 76; Tyler Zhang, Regis Jesuit, 76; Cal McCoy, Regis Jesuit, 77; Arik Roberts, Palmer, 77; Drew Anderson, Regis Jesuit, 78; Tyler Mulligan, Chaparral, 78; Will Branan, Fairview, 78; Grayden Wolfe, Lakewood, 78; Jonas Graham, Chaparral, 79; Evan Wilkinson, Mountain Vista, 79; Max Camp-Oberhauser, Lakewood, 80; Miles Murphy, Fairview, 82..
Other locals— Ryan Spallone, Legacy, 85; Matt Ammon, Legacy, 96..
Alternates— Grant Hoos, Legacy, 79; Ben McCormick, Legacy, 80..