DENVER – Monday’s opening round of the Class 5A boys golf state championships at Pinehurst Country Club left a lot to be decided by Tuesday’s finale.
At the end of Day 1, an unusual 10 players from eight different schools sat within three strokes of the lead, which currently belongs to Fossil Ridge’s Gavin Hagstrom. Three of those players are two strokes back, and four are right on Hagstrom’s trail just one stroke behind the Sabercats senior.
On a tough course where putting is everything, Tuesday’s final round could be defined by more leaderboard shuffling than any other state tournament in recent memory.
“I feel like I played pretty solid,” Hagstrom said. “You can never really wish for a bigger lead so I’m just happy to be the leader right now because it’s still really close and there’s a lot more golf to play.”
Hagstrom, who spent last school year at the Junior Players Golf Academy, finished with an even-par 70 on Monday. His low score of the day kept the Fossil Ridge Sabercats in contention to repeat as team champions, four strokes behind Front Range League rival Fairview entering Day 2.
With a pack of contenders seeking the individual title, Fairview’s Ryder Heuston, who placed seventh in 2018, and Brett Reamon both sit in a tie for second place with matching 1-over 71’s. Also included in the one-stroke chase group are Arapahoe’s Will Kates and Highlands Ranch’s Tarek Salem, who was sixth last season.
“I was nervous for the first few holes but once the nerves went away I just started playing a normal round of golf,” Salem said. “The greens are really tough out here so it’s a putting contest. That’s what it comes down to. It’s nowhere near done. There’s a ton of people still in it and the last few greens are really difficult so tomorrow should be really interesting.”
At two strokes back, Fossil Ridge’s Owen Cornmesser led for much of the day and was as low as 2-under before picking up four strokes on his final three holes. Tied with Cornmesser are Fairview’s Will Chadwick and Lakewood’s Ryan Liao, who placed fourth in 2018.
“This course is tough,” Heuston said. “I hit 15 greens, which is right around my average, but I struggled on the greens a little bit. I can’t really say I hit any bad shots today so hopefully a few more putts go in tomorrow.”