Colin Prater had hit a solid tee shot on the 552-yard first hole at the Colorado Springs Country Club at the 2012 5A Boys Regional Golf Tournament. His second shot left him a 100-yard wedge straight into the green.
Then potential disaster. He pushed the third shot far right, hole-high but with a bunker between him and the hole. With a landing zone of just inches to play with, Prater chipped over the green with enough spin to stop the ball within 8 feet of the hole. He sank the putt to turn what could have been an awful start into a positive.
"It definitely gave me a boost,” he said. “Being able to get up and down after hitting that poor shot got the momentum going.”
He rode that momentum all the way to a third-place finish and a berth at the state tournament, which will be held Oct. 1-2 at Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden.
Now a senior, Prater has been following a plan in his golf career. He qualified for the state tournament as a freshman and took 26th as a sophomore, just one spot off his goal of top 25. In 2011, he took 25th which was well off his goal of top 10. Despite that hiccup, the goal for this season remains the same.
"I made my goals and then last year I kind of struggled,” he said. “We’ll be back on track to win state this year.”
Donny Kinnaman of Grand Junction was Monday’s top finisher, shooting a 1-over par 72. The sophomore took 23rd at state a year ago.
"I didn’t hit the ball my best; ball striking was probably a B or C game,” Kinnaman said of Monday’s round. “I hit fairways and got up and down when I missed greens and it turned out to be 72.”
Joining Kinnaman and Prater as individuals at the state tournament will be Grand Junction Central’s Preston Grandbouche (73), Rampart’s Ben Tarasiewicz (80) and Grand Junction’s Greg Gibson (81), who won the spot in a playoff against Palmer’s Alex Gumper.
Also qualifying was a trio of Pine Creek golfers – Arden Bevere, Garrett Frye and Brent Whiting – all of whom shot 79.
Palmer’s Gumper took the first alternate, with Fountain-Fort Carson’s Steven Pattee and Liberty’s Tyler Nolan tying at 83 for the second alternate spots.
The team title went to Fruita Monument, which had a team score of 225, 12 strokes better than second-place finishers Grand Junction and Pine Creek. Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox brought his team to Colorado Springs early and got rounds in Saturday and Sunday.
"It helped that we got over here and got to see the course for a couple of days,” Fox said. “All of them felt really prepared. They just went out today and executed the shots that they knew they had to make.”
Prater, meanwhile, is confident going into his fourth trip to the state tournament. He saw Monday’s round as something he could work off of in his quest for a state championship.
“Today was just a little bit off,” Prater said. “I kept it together and didn’t put up any big numbers and ended up shooting 75. It was almost good.”