Down to the wire
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. A.J. Joiner didn’t mind the pressure. He’s used to it. The 19-year-old Roaring Fork High School graduate faced plenty of pressure during his freshman season of golf at South Mountain Junior College in Phoenix.Just qualifying to represent the team at tournaments on a week-to-week basis proved nerve-racking enough.”We qualified every week for the golf team. It makes you a better golfer, and I still need to work on closing out,” said Joiner.On Sunday, Joiner closed out just well enough, knocking home a five-foot, do-or-tie putt to edge Blake Hull by a single stroke to win the Glenwood Open amateur golf tournament at Glenwood Springs Golf Club.The putt salvaged a bogey on the par-4 Hole 9 and was just enough to hold off Hull, who moments earlier sank a short putt for par. “I was pretty nervous,” Joiner said, before jokingly adding, “I tried to lose it.”
Joiner entered the second day of the two-day tourney three strokes off the lead, which had been shared by Hill and Michael Smith. An eagle on his second go-around with the second hole and a fortuitous bounce or two helped Joiner card a 4-under-par 66 on Sunday to purge the deficit and secure a win in his first Glenwood Open.On Hole 8, he narrowly missed the water gunning for the green, following with an up-and-down for par. On the sixth hole, he bounced a shot off the cart path. As luck would have it, that one came to rest on grass.”For how many unfortunate breaks golf gives you, you’ve got to take advantage of the breaks you do get,” said Joiner, who shot a 71 on Saturday and finished with a 36-hole total of 137.He also got a little help from Hull, who missed a two-foot putt on the second-to-last hole.”You can’t do that,” said a frustrated Hull, the son of NHL great Bobby Hull and the older brother of Brett Hull, also of hockey stardom. “All the kudos and all the credit go to A.J. He’s the one that finished with 66. He’s a hell of a player. He’s got a lot of talent.”The 44-year-old Hull, who lives in Basalt and is a member at Ironbridge Golf Club, like Joiner was playing in his first Glenwood Open. He finished with a 68 on Saturday and put a 70 on the board on Sunday for a tournament total of 138. Michael Smith finished a shot behind at 139.Like Joiner, Hull relished Sunday’s thrilling finish.”I just love to compete,” he said. “I love the nervous feeling you get when you have a chance to win.”
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The Glenwood Springs High School girls swim and dive team capped an undefeated season over the weekend, winning the Southwest Conference finals in dominating fashion.