PUEBLO — At times it looked like the greens at the Pueblo Country Club had gotten better of the Class 3A Tri-Peaks boys golfers. For the most part anyway.
Heading into the final league meet of the year at the Manitou Mustang Invite, a three-way race was on for individual medalist honors as Jimmy Clark (Lamar), Lance Peters (Trinidad) and Peter Stinar (St. Mary's) were all in contention.
With a six-over-par 77 Peters came away the winner of Monday's tournament, but it was Stinar's 81 that held up against his previous scores of 72 and 74 to come away with the individual league championship. St. Mary's also claimed the team title.
He may have been the last one standing after three tournaments, but the day clearly belonged to Peters. He was two-over through the first three holes, which many believe to be the toughest stretch that PCC has to offer.
He made the turn at one-over before shooting a 41 on the back nine.
"I was just trying to put myself in good positions, not put myself in to hard spots," Peters said. "I could save reasonable scores and you can't get above the hole on this course."
The country club can be a tricky course. There are no water hazards anywhere on the property, but the primary defense is the speed of the greens.
After watching several putts blast by the cup early in a round, hitting with the flat stick can become the biggest mental hurdle the players have to overcome through the course of the day.
"You just gotta make sure you are going to make that putt when you step up to it and have confidence going in on that," Stinar said.
He had breathed a sigh of relief at the conclusion of the round. He entered the day one stroke behind Clark for the league lead. He bogeyed the first two holes of the day before making par on five of the next seven to make the turn at four-over.
But Clark was in trouble early. His opening tee shot went out of bounds and his problems snowballed as he made double-bogey on his first three holes.
He turned in a cleaner scorecard on the back nine, but the early damage wasn't enough to let him hang on to a league title, something he knew was going to be tough from the start regardless of where the tournament was being played.
"All these guys are really good, Peter can straight play," Clark said. "You have to just give it to him. He played great today and held it in there."
The next focus for each golfer at Monday's tournament is regionals which are set to be complete by Sept. 27. This final league tournament served as great prep on many levels for the players. There was still competition to be had and the difficulty of the course demanded greater precision in all shots.
"It's really great mental prep," Clark said. "It just kind of shows that even on an off day, you can maybe squeak into regionals and it kind of gives you some confidence that way."
Peters agreed with that assessment and is feeling considerably more confident after winning the Mustangs Invite.
"I'm good with my wedges, my putting and off the tee I'm not feeling too bad," Peters said. "I think it's all going to come around."
Stinar, Peters and Clark all finished in the top 31 individually at last year's state tournament and are looking to get another crack at coming away with a medal. This 3A state tournament will be held at Eisenhower Golf Course on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy.