Post Independent Sports Editor
RIFLE — Ty Caron took his time to vent and be angry.
And after that five-minute venting period, he realized something: His team won the 18-team Rifle Invitational, and his second place really wasn’t all that bad.
“Winning as a team? Oh yeah. That’s awesome,” the Rifle High senior said. “Winning the individual title would have just been the cherry on top.”
The Bears found their overall outing on their home course to be pretty sweet. They finished with a team score of 232, which was four-strokes better than the scores of 236 compiled by Grand Junction and Delta. Grand Junction was awarded runner-up status since its fourth-best golfer, Ben Volkmann, had a better score than Delta’s fourth-best golfer.
Fruita Monument (237), Durango (242), Vail Christian (245) and Aspen (246) also followed in the team standings.
Spencer Peterson of Steamboat Springs, the Sailors’ No. 2 golfer, shot a 1-over 73 to tie with Caron for the No. 1 individual spot. When the pair played the course’s first hole in a playoff, Peterson won it with a four-foot bogey putt after Caron missed a 12-footer for bogey, which would have forced a second playoff hole.
“I was surprised,” said Peterson in reference to where he finished during regulation. “It’s a tough course, but I thought for sure that someone was going to come in [at even par]. Today was more a day of getting through the hard holes with pars, because you could easily get careless, slice one somewhere and end up with a nine on that hole or something.”
Caron, who finished third in Monday’s Coal Ridge Invitational at Lakota Canyon Golf Club in New Castle and came a stroke away from going into a three-way playoff there, nearly pulled off the win in regulation. His approach shot on the 17th hole left him with a seven-foot putt he nailed for an eagle, and he came just inches away from sinking a birdie putt on the par-4 18th.
“I was happy with coming back, at least,” Caron said. “That last putt was super close. But just coming back from 3-over and forcing a playoff was pretty dang cool.”
Caron’s reaction wasn’t initially that way. After Peterson sank the final putt of the tournament to win the tournament, Caron shook his hand, rapidly turned around to grab his golf bag and stomped back to the clubhouse. Some consoling words from Rifle coach Jordan Smith during that long walk back helped calm Caron down.
“He was pretty bummed,” Smith said. “But the only way to truly look at it is a learning experience. He had his five minutes to be mad about it, but he’s ready to move on.”
Rifle won its own tournament for the second consecutive year. This year’s tournament drew a higher quantity of teams and higher quality teams. Many squads stayed the night Wednesday after playing that day in Gypsum, which is the site of this year’s regional tournament.
Smith tried to put the win in perspective, though.
“We play good competition every week,” he said. “We see a lot of good 3A schools and a lot of 5A schools, but it does feel good to see some good 4A schools and know that we can also hang with them.”
Keaton Reiher of Delta and Troy Dangler of Fruita Monument each finished with a 74, but Reiher was awarded third place in a scorecard playoff.
Teig Hauer was Rifle’s second-best golfer with a 78, with Cody Capwell (81), Wyatt Carter (82) and Dalton Bornholdt (117) following.
Among the Garfield County schools that played were Coal Ridge and Grand Valley. The Titans were paced by an 83 from senior Tyler Scott, with Graham Levitt (99) and Cole Duplesys (101) following. Grand Valley was paced by J.T. Kellebrew (92) and was joined by Ben Coleman (117) and Tyler Dove (118).
Tristan Rohrbaugh of Basalt, who won Wednesday’s 3A tournament title along with teammate Peter Steckler, shot a 79 on Thursday. Rohrbaugh lives in Carbondale.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.