EAGLE – Teammates Nashant Datta and Sam Taylor have already helped Peak to Peak reach the top of one mountain. Tuesday, they’ll have a chance to summit one for themselves.
Sitting at 6-over par as a team, the Pumas are in a good position to come away for the Class 3A boys state golf championship. It’s the second day battle between Taylor and Datta for the individual championship that is going to make things fun. Both players shot an even 72 and are co-residents at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m really excited for Nashant and to be playing against him tomorrow,” Taylor said. “I’m always happy for anybody on my team to excel, including myself, so we’ll see how it goes.”
From the start, both players played steady. Neither one allowed themselves anything worse than a bogey on the front nine and they each made the turn at even par. It was on the back where they both looked to seize control before finishing with a disastrous 18th hole.
Both Datta and Taylor hit back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 and came into 18 at 2-under. Datta’s approach shot found the water giving him a penalty stroke and forcing him to hit another shot. His second attempt landed on the fringe in front of the green and he was able to get up and down for a double-bogey to bring him back to even.
“I was nervous for sure on the shot,” Datta said. “I haven’t been in situations like this before. It was the worst shot I hit all day for sure.”
Right after Datta finished, Taylor would have his own woes on the 18th hole. His second shot landed in the rough off the left of the green. He was able to chip it on, but the ball rolled downhill and off the right side. He had to chip it on and two-putted for a six, to bring him back to even as well.
Even after the woes of the 18th hole, Peak to Peak coach John Thornberry still thought his team had an excellent first day.
“I’m extremely happy,” he said. “They gave away a few strokes on the last hole, but I was really proud of the way they played. If they made a double or a triple, they came right back and regained some strokes.”
On the individual side, Dawson School’s Yale Kim came into the event hoping to defend his 2014 state title, but his tournament got off to a rough start. He bogeyed the second hole, a 554-yard par 5, and couldn’t recover with any birdies on the front nine.
He added bogeys on the fifth, eight and ninth holes to make the turn at 4-over par, but his struggles continued. He bogeyed five more holes, but birded 14 and finished the round with a birdie on 18 to give him some confidence for Tuesday.
“I’m going to come in (Tuesday) with a fresh mind,” Kim said. “I’m going to come in more confident with my putts and irons.”
CLASS 3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
At Eagle Ranch G.C.
Team scores — Peak to Peak 222, Kent Denver 232, Basalt 243, Colorado Academy 243, Eaton 245, Aspen 247, Alamosa 250, Resurrection Christian 251, Dawson School 252, Vail Mountain 254, Sterling 260, Estes Park 260, Colorado Springs Christian 269, Swink 274, Cedaredge 287, Front Range Christian 292, Tinidad 300..
Top individuals — Nashant Datta, Peak to Peak 72; Sam Taylor, Peak to Peak 72; Oliver Jack, Kent Denver 75; Linc Kleager, Basalt 75; Ivan Richmond, Estes Park 76; Holden Kleager, Basalt 76; Billy Howentein, Dawson School 76; Mark Hillary, Kent Denver 77; Max Messner, Colorado Academy 77; Ian Thorpe, Peak to Peak 78; Ethan Tartaglia, Peak to Peak 78; Will Hazen, Aspen 78..
Other Dawson School results — Yale Kim 79; Tanner Fulkerson 97..