It's always easier with a putter.
Jeff Franks of Steamboat Springs didn't really need to know that he plays better with a putter, but the point was reinforced Sun--------day at Yam----pa Val--ley Golf Cour----se during the final round of the Cottonwood Classic.
Last year, Franks broke his putter on the ninth hole and had to putt the rest of the tournament with a 3-wood. He lost the lead and the tournament to Rifle's Luke Antonelli on the back nine.
This year, Franks' putter survived the tournament and allowed him to pull away from the rest of the field for his second tournament title in three years.
"It was a lot easier making the turn with a putter," he said with a smile. "I made quite a few putts this weekend."
Franks started the tournament with one of the best rounds in YVGC history. He shot a 64, which tied the course record. On Saturday, he cooled down to shoot a 72.
"The two days felt the same, but I made more putts on Friday," he said. "Today, I had some good swings, and except for the last two holes, I played well."
The Steamboat Springs golfer finished the day with six birdies, but bogeys on the last two holes bumped him up to a 69. He finished the tournament with an 11-under 205.
Franks' miscues on the last two holes didn't add any drama to the tournament because he already had pulled away from second-place Eric Winder of Grand Junction.
Winder started the day three strokes back, but he shot a 76 on Sunday.
"I struggled today," he said. "I didn't hit the shots I needed to. Jeff outplayed me today."
Winder's struggles allowed the field to come back on him, but he held onto second place by one stroke with a 215. Butch Broucher of Steamboat Springs finished the tournament with a 71 and a three-day total of 216.
Franks and Winder are two of the best young golfers on the Western Slope. They both play in college, with Franks going into his senior year at the University of Wyoming and Winder a junior at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
"We see each other a lot during the summer," Franks said. "It was nice that I had the chance to play with him all three days."
Steamboat Spring and Grand Junction golfers dominated the top 10 of the tournament's Championship Flight. Three of the top finishers -- Franks, Ryan Brees (fifth) and Paul Berry (10th) -- all graduated from Steamboat Springs High School within the past four years. During those years, the Sailors golf team has been one of the best in the state.
There was a tie for the best score from Craig golfers. John Doane and Preston Ivy finished the weekend with a 231. Doane's score won first place in the third flight. Ivy finished 17th in the Championship Flight with his score.
In all, 199 golfers participated in the 39th Cottonwood Classic.
The weather threatened rain throughout Sunday, but only a few sprinkles fell. The wind swirled in the afternoon, which led to higher scores Sunday for the groups that teed off in the afternoon.
"The weather cooperated for another good weekend," YVGC Professional Chuck Cobb said. "It's always good to see all of our friends come for the Cottonwood."