Fast greens don't scare Bulldogs

There is one tournament left in 2000. Two rounds thirty-six holes and 84 golfers.

Moffat County High School will send two seniors to the River Valley Ranch golf course in Carbondale to meet that challenge. C.J. Rugh and Jerrod Aragon are the first two Bulldogs golfers to travel to the state tournament in three years. Two other Bulldogs, Nate Vaccari and Evan Pressley just missed the cut.

Head coach Ken Harjes feels positive about the two state qualifiers.

"The both have a lot of confidence in their games," Harjes said, "and they're really smart golfers."

Aragon made the tournament by shooting an 81 at regionals to qualify for a shootout.

"Jerod tied with five other golfers with an 81, so those six had to play-off for the last three spots at state," Harjes said. "His second shot missed the green, but I've told these guys all year, 'You have to be able to chip and putt.' He hit the chip of his life it was a great up and down."

Three of the six golfers in the playoff bogied and went home. The other three parred and moved on to the big one.

"This is my fourth and final year [in high school]," Aragon said. "So I think it's great to make the state tournament. It's always hard to know what's going to happen. Last year I shot an 80 at regionals and didn't even force a playoff. I shot 81 this year, forced a playoff, and now I'm going to state."

Rugh shot a 76 at regionals and finished second among 80 golfers. The great round and the trip to state are the realization of a goal he's had for three years.

"It was my goal to make state when I started my sophomore year," Rugh said. "I've been golfing most of my life since I was about seven but I didn't get serious about it until I was 11."

Getting serious is the only way to succeed at a game that is a lot harder than it looks, and Rugh understands the mental aspects of success.

"Focus is the most important thing," he said. "You can't let your thoughts wander. You can't be thinking about something else when you have to make the shot."

There will be plenty to think about with all the pressure of a state tournament, but both players feel they're ready for it.

"I've got nothing to lose," Rugh said. "I'm going to go down there and try to approach it like any other tournament. I know that may be tough, but I think that's what I have to do."

"I would really like to break 80 both days," Aragon said about the tournament. "My goal is to shoot in the 70s both days."

This course will play differently than the Yampa Valley course the boys are most familiar with, but they have played in Carbondale, so they know what to expect.

"The biggest thing we have to deal with is the greens," said Rugh. "But we've played the course, so I think we know what to do. I've been focusing on just hitting good shots straight shots you can't spray the ball around. You've got to put yourself in a position to get up and down."

"You have to hit in front of the greens and let the ball roll up," Aragon said of the River Valley Ranch course. "I haven't really played that way before, but I feel good about that course."

The tournament stretches across two days, Oct. 2 and 3.

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