Cardinals golfer cards state qualifier |

Cardinals golfer cards state qualifier

DELTA – In a few years Sam McKinley might want to use his talent at beating the odds in Las Vegas. For now, the Grand Valley High School senior is satisfied in turning high stakes into winners on the playing field.Or, in Wednesday’s case, at the golf course.Playing in a handful of events during the 2006 Western Slope prep boys golf tour, McKinley, who also won two track and field state championships in May as an underdog was a virtual unknown to the majority of the 19-team field when he teed up for the regional tournament at Devil’s Thumb Golf Course.”Who’s he?” most of the regulars asked as they crowded around the tournament scoreboard. The number 78, signifying McKinley’s, sufficed. It also earned him a spot in the upcoming 36-hole Class 4A state tournament later this month in Steamboat Springs.McKinley, when asked, couldn’t explain his flair for pulling off the unexpected.”It’s odd to me,” he said. “I only shot under an 86 once during the year, then coming in here and shooting a 78 is pretty odd.”McKinley’s round was the third best among area individuals in the tournament. Paul Berry, from regional team runner-up had the day’s low score of 76. Runner-up Eric Farmer of Delta and Eagle Valley’s Jamison Bair, with marks of 77 and 80, also advance to the state tournament as does Glenwood’s Jason Whiting.Berry and his teammates, along with team champion Basalt, who bested the Sailors by one stroke – 244 to 245 – receive automatic state berths.Carding a low score is not odd to Whiting. The Glenwood Springs junior has been posting strong marks throughout the year. Yet, the 82 he scored at regionals was a dab strange, considering he and the rest of the field played the tournament’s final six holes under showery, windy conditions.”It was interesting. I started off real good, and I was hitting my irons excellent – it was probably the best I hit them all year. Once the winds started, it didn’t bother me at all,” he said.Having good karma helps. Prior to teeing-off, Whiting had a sense everything was coming together.”I was hitting (balls) real good on the driving range when I first started this morning,” he said. “So I knew I’d have a good day if I kept my composure.”Hayden Winkler of Roaring Fork was in contention in a hole playoff with five other golfers for one of two available alternate state spots after finishing 18 holes. The results of the playoff were unavailable at press time.

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