LOVELAND — High school regional golf tournaments in Colorado can be empowering or humbling experiences, depending on your perspective.
Golfers from Boulder and Fairview prove the point.
To Grant Rogers, a freshman from BHS, regionals must seem pretty simple. In his first crack at the tournament, he won Monday’s 5A Northern Regional, prevailing in a one-hole playoff after shooting a 1-over-par 73 at the Olde Course at Loveland.
To Sam Rock, a senior at Fairview, he knows both how satisfying and how cruel the tournament can be. After top-20 finishes at the state meet as a freshman and sophomore, he had an off day at regionals last year and missed out on state completely. Then on Monday, the golf gods smiled on him in a playoff for the final available state berths as an errant tee shot bounced off a tree and back into the fairway, allowing him to make a relatively easy par and advance.
And to Kevin Klatman, a senior at Boulder, after a fortunate outcome last year in a regional playoff, things evened out Monday as he was one of two players on the wrong side of a seven-man sudden death.
“It’s funny these regionals,” BHS coach Jim Kozlowski said. “So many crazy things can happen. You just never know.”
At the end of the day, two individuals from Fairview and one from Boulder qualified for the 5A state meet, which will be held Oct. 3-4 at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction.
Advancing were Rogers, Rock and FHS sophomore Kevin Wohlfarth. Besides Rogers’ 73, Wohlfarth shot a 76 despite a double bogey on the final hole, and Rock had a 78.
With a 235 total, Boulder finished fifth in the 15-team field, six strokes behind team champion Fossil Ridge and just two behind the second and final team qualifier, Greeley West. Fairview (238), which won the Front Range League Championship last week, placed eighth and Monarch (257) was 13th.
The 15-year-old Rogers, a left-hander, made five birdies Monday to tie Mountain Range’s Brandon Gayeski for the regional title. But Rogers won a playoff with a 25-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
“It feels awesome; I played really well today,” said Rogers, who posted his best score of the season. “It feels great to get into state, which will be a really fun two days down in Grand Junction.”
Rogers started the day in fortunate fashion after his first shot of the round went into the left trees, as he recovered by draining a 30-foot par putt. “That really got my day started,” he said.
Rogers later made another 30-footer, this time for birdie, and it was obvious this was going to be a much different outcome than the one earlier this season when he shot an 81 at the Olde Course.
“One hole, I’d make a long putt; the next I’d stick a wedge shot,” he said. “It’s really good to have confidence going into state.”
While Wohlfarth didn’t have as many highlights as Rogers, he did make a 45-foot eagle putt on the 17th hole, which left a smile on his face despite his subsequent double bogey.
“It’s satisfying because I didn’t make it to state last year,” Wohlfarth said. “I’m really glad to have this chance, but it’s bittersweet without the team. I don’t think it will be quite as fun as I was planning.”
Rock and Klatman both ended up in the seven-man playoff for the final five individual spots in state. Rock’s tee shot on the extra hole went left into the trees, but it miraculously bounced into the fairway. From there, he put his approach shot on the left fringe, and two-putted for par from 40 feet. And with that, he was able to breathe a deep sigh of relief after a pressure-filled day.
“I was about ready to run up to that tree afterward and give it a big hug,” he said. “That was pretty lucky. With the end result, I’m happy, absolutely.”
But Klatman, who qualified for state via a playoff last year, wasn’t so fortunate. His drive in the playoff went far left, but even with a large tree between him and green, he managed to get his ball just short of the putting surface. His pitch was too strong, however, running 12 feet by the hole, and he missed the par attempt and lost out in the playoff as a senior.
“I’m pretty upset, but it’s not like my golfing career is over,” Klatman said. “I’ve still got more tournaments to play.
“I didn’t want to be in a playoff, but I thought at seven for five I had a pretty good chance. I thought I was one of the better players in the playoffs, so I felt I had a real good chance. But a bad shot cost me.”
It was an unexpected result for Boulder’s No. 1 player, and for the Panthers as a team. They finished just two strokes out of the final team berth, yet they qualified just one player for state.
“It was kind of tough to go from a high to a low like that,” Kozlowski said.
5A Northern Regional
At Par-72 Olde Course at Loveland
Team Scores — 1. Fossil Ridge 229 (qualified team for state); 2. Greeley West 233 (qualified team for state); 3. (tie) Legacy and Rocky Mountain 234; 5. (tie) Boulder and Fort Collins 235; 7. Grand Junction 236; 8. Fairview 238; 9. Mountain Range 240; 10. Fruita Monument 241; 11. Poudre 246; 12. Loveland 247; 13. Monarch 257; 14. (Grand Junction) Central 258; 15. Horizon 260.
State Qualifiers — 1. Grant Rogers, Boulder, 73 (won playoff); 2. Brandon Gayeski, Mountain Range, 73; 3. Nathaniel Goddard, Fossil Ridge, 74; 4. (tie) Sean Kato, Greeley West, 75; Joey Saad, Fruita Monument, 75; Tyler Bricker, Fossil Ridge, 75; 7. (tie) Kevin Wohlfarth, Fairview, 76; Palmer Giro, Fort Collins, 76; 9. (tie) Ryan Willmot, Rocky Mountain, 77; Austin Clements, Legacy, 77; Matt Bell, Rocky Mountain, 77; 12. (tie) Sam Rock, Fairview, 78; Eric Chen, Legacy, 78; Donny Kinnaman, Grand Junction, 78; Garrett Fante, Grand Junction, 78; Zach Firnett, Fort Collins, 78; Also: Alec Lask, Greeley West, 79; Sev Stoffel, Greeley West, 79; Matthew Goddard, Fossil Ridge 80; Will Thwaites, Fossil Ridge, 81; Derek DeNovellis, Greeley West, 88.
Alternates (in order) — Cole Bundy, Loveland, 78; Kevin Klatman, Boulder, 78.
Monarch Individuals — Taylor Walker 85; Alex Mautz 85; Drew Ersek 87; Jackson Elliott 88.
Other Boulder Individuals — Grant Dinkel 84; Austin Williams 88.
Other Fairview Individuals — Patrick Kaboth 84; Matt Vacek 85.