State tourney up next for Joiner |

State tourney up next for Joiner

A.J. Joiner hasn’t had a problem hitting the ball this season.

The Roaring Fork High School golfer loves to break out the driver on long holes and averaged 14 greens in regulation per round this season.

But he temporarily lost a little confidence in his putting stroke when he four-putted No. 18 in the Western Regional Tournament a week and a half ago.

A Joiner four-putt is a rarity, but it did convince him to make some changes heading into the two-day Class 4A Boys State Tournament, which starts today at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

After a week of working out the kinks and armed with a new putter ” the same one Tiger Woods uses ” he’s regained his confidence in the short game.

“I’m really going into this tournament confident,” Joiner said.

“I’m going to try to win this tournament and I’m focused on what I have to do to win the tournament.

“I really think, with my game right now, if the putter gets hot, I can play with anyone.”

Joiner admitted that the pressure at the regional tournament made him go “brain-dead” on the 18th, but it was a different kind of pressure than he will experience at the state tournament.

He was putting pressure on himself to lift his team into the tournament instead of just himself.

“I had to make my first putt to make 73 (for the round) and make the whole team qualify,” Joiner said. “I hit the hole on every single putt, but the ball didn’t fall. I feel real bad about missing that first putt.”

Roaring Fork finished third in the tournament, one place out of a qualifying spot, but Joiner held on to become the only area player to

Not only does he head to the season-ending tournament with just himself to worry about, but Joiner is putting a positive spin on the regionals experience.

“It’s kind of a relief to get that out of the way at regionals ” make a double-bogey and still qualify for state,” joiner said. “I really don’t think another four-putt will be anywhere close.”

It’s Joiner’s first trip to State, and he hadn’t played the course prior to a practice round over the weekend. But, checking out the yardage book on the 6,888-yard track, he likes what he sees. It suits his long game and is in some ways similar to River Valley Ranch, his home course in Carbondale.

“I want to make it seem like any other tournament,” Joiner said. “Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t played the course much. I seem to play better on courses I don’t really know well.”

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