Busy week for Moffat County golf with trio of tourneys before regionals
For the Craig Press
While most fall sports are just getting going, Moffat County High School’s boys golf program is already nearing the final weeks of its season, and a round at their home event sees them move into a stage of preparation for their biggest tournaments of the year.
MCHS hosted the Bulldog Invitational Monday at Yampa Valley Golf Course, placing in the middle of the field with a ranking of seventh among 12 teams.
The day on the links was a little rougher than expected for the Dogs, whose 284 team scorecard consisted of an 89 by sophomore Aron Jennings, a 90 from senior Dave Andujo and 105 by junior Lance Brackett.
It was a mixed bag for Jennings, who has regularly shot the lowest for Moffat County this fall, including a total in the 70s and a placement in the top three. On Monday, he tied for 30th, as a 52 on the front nine was one of the shakiest starts he’s had all season.
“It seems like on a familiar course, you start bad sometimes because you’re overconfident and you’re not thinking about it too much. Then you wind up having a couple bad holes,” Jennings said.
However, Jennings turned around entirely on the back portion of YVGC, shooting only one above the Par 36, breaking even on five holes, a +1 on Hole 10, a double on 18, and birdies on both Hole 13 and 15.
With good placement, a lengthy putt on the 15th green was all that was keeping Jennings from an eagle.
While he notched more bogeys than he’d like, Andujo tied for 35th with 44 and 46 on the dual halves of the course.
Part of that came from a separate physical ailment for the Bulldog senior, who’s recovering from being thrown off a horse.
“I’m still hurting pretty bad from that,” he said. “I wasn’t hitting very good today with any of my clubs. I’m just struggling to make contact.”
Placing 50th, Brackett likewise had trouble on both the front and back. Though he was coming off a competitive score in the high 80s earlier this month, a lengthy hiatus during a family trip didn’t give him as much practice time as he’d like.
Even so, the weekend before the tourney, Brackett said he’d finished with one of his best scores ever.
“I shot a 72 yesterday, so I’m a little bit disappointed with how I did today,” he said. “It’s a little more stressful when there’s people out here.”
Having only taken up the game in the past five months, Brackett has been adamant about working on his technique.
“Every day this summer, I was out here, head down, playing 36 holes,” he said. “My dad got me into it. I was having some problems with life and school and everything, and I needed something to keep my head on track. Once I got into golf, I fell in love with it, and that’s all I’ve been doing.”
Closer on the leaderboard to Brackett was freshman Jayden Evenson with a 125.
“Jayden had a really good day; he’s played well for a kid that hasn’t played that much golf yet,” said MCHS coach Tim Adams.
Junior Easton Briggs finished with a 130. Briggs noted that he was working on improving his putting more than anything.
“Usually I can drive pretty good, but I guess today it’s more about my short game,” Briggs said.
Fellow novice Bulldog players, freshmen Andrew Duran and Wyatt Tucker, ended the day at 132 and 139, respectively.
Duran said he’s only started golfing in the last few months.
“I thought it would be easy, but just trying to hit the ball is a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “I’m just glad I didn’t finish last.”
Adams admitted he’d hoped the home event would be productive for his players, but he also understood that the assumption of a good round with no travel can backfire.
“There’s something to be said for sitting in a Suburban or a bus and thinking about the day ahead,” he said. “I think they just put too much pressure on themselves today.”
Adams noted that some players have had practices disrupted by COVID-19 quarantine, which also affected their performance. He had to pull the team from a tournament in Vail a week earlier with few players able to attend.
With Steamboat Springs winning in Craig among the team results at 231 — led by senior Travis Seitz at 73 — MCHS golfers moved on to the Sailors’ home event Tuesday at Haymaker Golf Course.
A better day across the board for the Bulldogs saw them place ninth as a group with a combined score of 271.
Andujo particularly shot better, coming down to 82, breaking even on 10 holes and a birdie on Hole 1, to tie for 19th place in the field of 81.
Adams attributed the improvement to Andujo’s level of familiarity with Haymaker.
“They all just seemed more relaxed today,” he said Tuesday.
Jennings had a round similar to Monday on his first time on the Haymaker grounds, but he finished one stroke better at 88.
Adams took the same roster to Steamboat, and each of them ended with a lower score; Brackett brought his total down to 101, Evenson 116, Duran 122, Briggs 125 and Tucker 127.
The varsity team rounded out the week Thursday at the Summit County Keystone Ranch Invite, with Adams taking only four golfers.
The squad took sixth place among 10 schools, with Jennings shooting his best round since the season opener, tying for eighth place with a 77 in a day when he never recorded any hole total higher than a 5.
Andujo had a rougher day at Keystone than at Haymaker but stayed under 90 with an 88, while Brackett improved drastically at 10 strokes lower than Tuesday to tally 91. The long week took more of a toll on Evenson, who shot 132.
The same foursome of players will next head on to the 3A Region 4 Tournament, scheduled for Sept. 21 at Cortez’s Conquistador Golf Course. Adams is able to bring four golfers, plus one alternate, to the event, which will determine what athletes move on to the state championships.
With three players who have been able to shoot in the 80s, Adams said he is confident a good regional round can mean multiple MoCo players at state.
“I really think all those guys can make it,” Adams said.
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With great energy and focus to start the 3A State Championships, Moffat County High School golfers Dave Andujo and Aron Jennings looked to end the season strong this week.