U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Around these parts, the first sign of fall for golfers is when your tee time gets delayed by frost on the course. It was definitely fall on Monday morning, though the frost delay was rather manageable at only about 15 minutes.
Fall or not, the Eisenhower Blue Course at the Air Force Academy wasn’t giving any easy passes to the golfers. Several golfers struggled to hold par consistently through the course and birdies were tough to come by for all.
Prospect Ridge’s Walker Franklin shot 2-under 70 to finish as the only golfer under par for the day, and he holds the lead after the first day.
Still very much within striking distance, however, are the Pevny brothers of Aspen. Nic shot an even par, while Jack finished 2-over. Also closing out the day at two over were Westin Pals of Lutheran and Jeffrey Zhou of Kent Denver.
That leaves out a small handful who figured as potential threats to win the tournament. But, it’s a major undertaking to come back on Tuesday from more than four strokes back on Monday.
Thirteen schools brought complete teams to the tournament.
Those teams left in the title hunt include co-leaders Aspen and Lutheran at 16-over for the first round. On the heels of the Skiers and Lions are Holy Family (three back), Kent Denver (five back), and Sterling (six back). All other teams are at least 10 strokes off the lead.
On paper, Lutheran ranks as the surprise of the tournament thus far. The Lions finished third in their region and qualified through the back door with only three players.
But, regardless of who might have surprised with today’s showing, coach Kevin Volz had a hunch this might be coming: “Westin Pals has been my No. 1 player for a few years now," he said. "He got a good start out of the gate. The other guys saw that, and it helped them get on track.”
Also coming up big for Lutheran today was freshman Jackson Lowe at 5-over.
“When you get two guys going that well, things tend to come around,” Volz added.