MONTROSE — There's no place like home. That was certainly the case for Micah Stangebye and the rest of the Montrose boys golf team after the first day of the Class 4A boys state golf tournament.
Stangebye, the winner of last year's state tournament, didn't card a bogey on his day and shot a 4-under-par 67 to take a three-stroke lead over Discovery Canyon's Kaden Ford and Northfield's Hunter Swanson.
Stangebye's steady approach had him even after six holes before he found his first birdie on the 170-yard par 3 seventh.
He ramped things up after making the turn, making back to back birdies on 10 and 11 to move to 3-under.
"I was hitting the ball really well, hitting the down the middle and then I'd hit the greens and it just came down to either making the putt," Stangebye said. On the back nine I made a couple of more birdies."
Stangebye's round set the tone for Montrose, but he got help from fellow senior Ryan Lords who shot a 73. That's good enough to sit at a tie for fifth place individually but overall it was a big boost in the team race.
Montrose finished the day just 4-over as a team and will have a chance on Tuesday to claim a third consecutive team title. It helps that they'll have a chance to do it the The Bridges, which serves as the team's home course.
"The kids played really well today. Knowing the course is an advantage for us," coach Dave Woodruff said. "I think tomorrow, especially for our seniors, let's just play like we did today and stay relaxed and both seniors just went out and just played phenomenal golf. I'm really happy for them."
Pueblo West sits in second place in the team race at 18-over. Freshman Noah Wagner and junior Toby Salinas each shot 76 to put the Cyclones in a position to go home with some hardware. But like Montrose and its bid for another championship play, West will have to see similar - preferably better - numbers on Tuesday.
Ford made the turn at 1-over before making consecutive birdies at 14 and 15. He made par on the last three holes to finish a round of 70.
Swanson, however, took a bit of a different route to his 70. He was sitting at 2-under heading into his 18th hole but finished on a bogey. He had eagled the hole in his Sunday practice round so it was a little discouraging, but overall wasn't upset with his day.
"I'm pretty happy with my round," Swanson said. "I made a couple bad decisions that led to a few bogeys but can't be mad with it. And it was a nice little 1-under round for the first round."
He'll have some work to do if he's going to catch Stangebye. The Montrose senior has course knowledge on his side and a good mental approach to his game. That was evident on the par-5 10th when facing a downhill, right to left putt for eagle.
His goal wasn't necessarily to make it, but rather to get it close enough for an easy birdie, which he did. It was that hole that started his accumulation of red numbers on the back nine.
"On that putt speed was the most important thing," Stangebye said. "You can't blow it by or leave it well short. I had a pretty good putt that just rolled four or five feet past the hole and then made it coming back."
That same approach will go a long way in his winning a state title on Tuesday. But it can't just be mental. He has to execute the shots as well, which is something he has shown time and time again that he is more than capable of doing.