AURORA — Fossil Ridge's Dillon Stewart caught fire on the back nine to head in after day one of the Class 5A boys golf state tournament as the clubhouse leader with a two-under finish.
"It started off a little rough. I missed a couple short putts for birdie," Stewart said. "I just had to ride through it and do what I needed to do. That was my goal, to be leader in the clubhouse after the first day. Then finish it out tomorrow with a good round."
Birdies on 11 and 14 put Stewart on top of the leaderboard ahead of a crowded field.
"Today, I started off with no expectations," Stewart said. "Just make a solid swing, one shot at a time. I tried to stay positive through bad mental errors. Try to look forward instead of looking back."
Stewart is followed by Eaglecrest's Davis Bryant, Regis Jesuit's Calvin McCoy and Grand Junction's Canon Olkowski, all at one-under.
Bryant, armed with experience in the U.S. Junior Amateur tournament, was 3-under, but bogies on 13 and 14 dropped him to one-under. Bryant came right back with a birdie on 15, then slid again with a bogey on 16.
"You have to grind it out. I left a few shots out there, but at the same time, nothing to hang my head about," Bryant said. "You have to stay as warm as you can and battle the wind. Obviously you're trying to hit the best shots you can, which isn't easy with how many layers you have on at the same time. I've played in worse weather than this, so past experience definitely helped."
Two straight pars sent Bryant into the clubhouse with a one-under-par 70.
"I'm going to go after it tomorrow like it's just another round of golf, and play it one shot at a time," Bryant said. "We'll see what happens after 18 holes. I feel like I'm in a good position. I didn't shoot myself out of it, I was able to grind it out and hang around."
Bryant is in a good spot to make a run at the individual title tomorrow. He finished in second place in last year's state tournament.
"Don't think about what happens after tomorrow," Bryant said. "Take it one shot at a time. Try and have a positive attitude on every shot, and keep my head up. Everyone is going to hit bad shots, but it's how you bounce back."
Olkowski was at plus-two with four holes to play. He hit three straight birdies to come in at one-under.
"I made a good put on six, and that got me going," Olkowski said. "I made back to back to back birdies, and turned my game around. I finished really well."
Regis Jesuit has a hold on the team race after day one at plus-four.
"I know we can play a lot better, but you can't win it the first day," McCoy said. "As long as we do what we need to do, we'll be fine"
McCoy's effort, and an even-par turned in by Cameron Kirke have the Raiders leading Cherry Creek (+8), Fossil Ridge (+9), ThunderRidge (+11), Fairview (+13) and Grand Junction (+13).
"You have to stay focused," McCoy said. "When you think about it, it's only 36 holes to determine who wins. If you get off focus for one shot, you could ruin your round."