Liberty boys golf turns to heavy hitters to start season with a team win

COLORADO SPRINGS — When Brandon Bervig needs to set the tone for a golf tournament, he should just try to remember the ninth hole at the Colorado Springs Country Club.

Bervig let loose with his driver and smashed his ball (unofficially) 343 yards down the fairway. He sat about 60 yards away from the pin. He made birdie and played consistently through the day to help Liberty claim the 2018 Doherty Spartan Invite.

But he wasn't the best finisher for the Lancers, nor is he the longest hitter.

"Lucas (Howell) can bomb it further," Liberty coach Stan Woodworth said while standing behind the ninth green.

Woodworth is excited about the combination he has in Bervig and Howell this year. Throughout their time with the Lancers, they've both shown a high level of skill. Woodward is just waiting for them to put every element of their game together and thinks that this can be the year.

"The last couple of years, it’s been mainly working on attitude because they have the ability," Woodward said. "It was nice to see today that after they made a bogey, they came right back and made a birdie. They were doing a good job of getting it up and down and keeping their attitudes in check. It’s been fun having them since they were freshmen and it’s going to be sad to say goodbye to them at the end of this year.”

The Lancers finished with a score of 221, four team strokes better than defending Class 5A champion Regis Jesuit. A four-way for the individual medal went to a playoff where Palmer Ridge's Elijah Harp came away the winner.

Harp, Howell, The Classical Academy's Liam O'Halloran, and Regis Jesuit's Freddie Ingham all shot an even-par-71 to force the four-way playoff.

Palmer Ridge boys golf Elijah Harp

Elijah Harp. (Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

In the playoff, all four players had a birdie putt on No. 7. Harp's ball was in the same area as O'Halloran and Ingham's, just a bit closer to the hole allowing him to get a read from their putts.

“I got kind of lucky," Harp said. "I was closer than the other two, so I got to see what their putts did and they left it on the short side. I figured I would give it a little extra and I read the break perfectly and it snuck in the side door.”

Bervig just missed out on joining the playoff, finishing with a 72 on the day. But he and Howell did enough to ensure the team win, despite both having some frustrations with the way they played today.

"I made birdie (on No. 9) but I was off the tee like that seven or eight times today and just made birdie once," Bervig said. "The putt was like 20 feet and I was 50 or 60 yards off the green (going into my second shot). If Lucas and I can get those distances nailed down, that’s when we can put some low scores out there.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Monday's tournament for the hard-hitting duo was the ability to play at the site of the 2018 5A boys state tournament. The Colorado Springs Country Club last hosted the 5A state tournament in 2014.

That year a local team was able to take advantage of playing the course as Coronado claimed the team championship. With two talented golfers on the roster, Liberty has dreams of making some noise when the first days of October roll around.

“It’s such a beautiful course and such an honor to play here," Howell said. "Knowing that state is going to be here, hopefully we can qualify as a team. If not, hopefully we can get someone to play really well and get top 10 or maybe top five.”

As he walked off the course at 18, Howell was disappointed in his play, quickly pointing out the things that had gone wrong. He was quick to note that those things won't go wrong in eight weeks.

He and Bervig have between now and then to clean up some aspects of their game and show that the Lancers can contend for their first boys golf title.