FORT CARSON - Braden Bentley had a feeling he was going to have a good day at Cheyenne Shadows Golf Club, but not even he could have imagined how great it would be.
The Mesa Ridge sophomore carded a bogey-free round of 6-under 66 on the 6,680-yard course to win the individual title at the Gladiator Invitational and set a career-low score in the process. Bentley, who finished tied for 27th at the 2012 4A state tournament as a freshman, finished four strokes ahead of Coronado sophomore Isaac Petersilie for individual honors at the tournament that also served as a 4A Colorado Springs Metro League meet.
"I just couldn't miss," said Bentley, who has been playing golf for as long as he can remember. "I was feeling good from the beginning, even on the range having a good time with my teammates. They just cut the rough here yesterday, so it was playing really reasonable."
Cheyenne Mountain's Aiden Detlof and Vista Ridge's Matthew Mason tied for third Wednesday with 2-over 74s, while Cheyenne Mountain's Alex Freimuth was fifth with a 3-over 75. Petersilie's round helped propel Coronado to the team title with a 6-over 222, with Cheyenne Mountain (228), Vista Ridge (242) and Mesa Ridge (248) finishing second through fourth, respectively.
Bentley grew up playing at the now-closed Appletree Golf Course and honed his skills at Pueblo Country Club in the summers.
He feels confident he can make some noise in the upcoming regional and state tournaments, which loom on the horizon later this month.
"I just need to keep rolling and keep getting better," said Bentley, who began the day with three straight birdies.
"(Going to state) was a great experience to have. My short irons and wedges were a struggle last year, and I've been working on them a lot."
Petersilie - who learned to play golf at Colorado Springs Country Club - also had six birdies, but stumbled a bit with four bogeys en route to his 2-under 70. He finished birdie-birdie to get back into red numbers.
"I felt pretty good, but there were just some errant shots that killed me," said Petersilie, who began playing golf in the sixth grade. "For the most part, it felt good today. I hit a few good shots that helped."
Playing in the same group with Bentley helped keep Petersilie motivated throughout the round.
"It makes you focus and makes you hone in and not try not to miss," said Petersilie, who finished 26th at the 4A state tournament last year.
The 20-team tournament was a good midseason measuring stick for area golfers, Widefield coach Chris Morrill said.
"This is the third year we've hosted this tournament, and it's been fun," Morrill said. "We had a lot of interest, and I feel like it's a pretty good test for the kids. This will help get them ready for the end of the season, where they have to try to shine at regionals and maybe move on to state."