Links playoff at Coal Ridge
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” Donny Stewart once sweated out a seven-hole playoff in a junior golf tournament.
By comparison, the one hole playoff with Rifle’s Klayton Costanzo at Thursday’s Coal Ridge Invitational boys golf tourney was nothing.
Parring the 10th hole, Stewart tuned up his clutch game at Lakota Canyon Golf Club, winning the Titans’ home tournament in a pressure-packed setting.
Stewart and Costanzo matched 2-under-par 70s ” each posting 34s on the front nine and 36s on the back ” in regulation to force a playoff in the final tournament before Tuesday’s 4A regional at Aspen Golf Course.
All parties involved felt a live playoff would serve as the most fitting way to end the day, particularly with the regional looming.
“It’s good practice,” Stewart said. “It kind of gets you used to the environment, the pressure situation.”
Both golfers hit the green in two on the par-4 10th hole, Stewart’s ball landing a sizable distance from the hole at the green’s edge and Costanzo’s around eight feet out.
Stewart’s first putt nearly found its mark, rolling inches wide of the cup, setting Costanzo up to win it with a mid-range tap.
But the Bear’s birdie try rolled wide and long. His subsequent shot for par went wide, too, and Stewart took advantage by tapping home the winner from two feet out.
In the end, Stewart credited his junior-golf experience with settling his nerves.
“I had a pretty extreme (playoff) in junior golf,” he said. “That helped me a little bit. It calmed me down.”
By no means, though, was it a bad day for Costanzo, who finished the day with three birdies and an eagle.
Costanzo’s eagle fell on the par-5 11th hole, where he nailed the pin on his second shot and the ball dropped within easy putting distance.
“That was the highlight of my day,” the junior said with a smile.
Despite the loss, going into regionals with a 70 under Costanzo’s belt is not a bad thing as far as momentum as concerned.
“I was playing the golf I knew I had in me,” he said. “Finally.”
Also coming up big from Rifle was Alex Haynes, who shot an 83 to help the Bears to a fourth-place team finish.
Coal Ridge’s Todd Scott and his Titan teammates made the home team proud with a team score of 257 and a seventh-place finish.
Scott shot an 12th-place 83, Craig Spaulding an 86 and Andy Smedra an 87 as coach Joe Elliot’s team produced its best outing of the season on its home course.
“This is the lowest we’ve ever posted,” said the second-year Coal Ridge coach. “I think familiarity with the course helped, and our guys are getting better.”
Michael Braklow led Glenwood Springs with an 84. Micah Evonitz paced Roaring Fork with an 86 and Jeremy Lawrence topped Grand Valley golfers with an 86.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.