Steamboat golfers struggle at state tournament |

Steamboat golfers struggle at state tournament

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School senior Kaelen Gunderson tees off on the fourth hole at Highlands Ranch Golf Club on Tuesday at the Class 4A state championships. Gunderson went on to make par on the hole and shot 80.

— As Steamboat Springs High School senior Scott Ptach walked down the 15th fairway at Highlands Ranch Golf Club during the second day of the Class 4A state championships Tuesday, the full spectrum of his day – and career – crept into his mind.

Ptach, making his third appearance at the state tournament, was by his accounts having a horrible day. He was battling flu-like symptoms, a gimpy back and a two-timing putter.

“I was like, screw this, I’m done. I was coughing up a storm. My back was hurting,” said Ptach, who was 11-over-par at the time. “Then I drained that 35-foot putt on 15.”

He then made a 10-footer for birdie on 16, a six-footer for birdie on 17 and had a two-putt birdie on 18 to shoot 79 for a two-day total of 155.

The 4-under-par finish to his round highlighted an up-and-down performance not only for Ptach, but also Steamboat’s other two participants, Kaelen Gunderson and Alan Capistron.

Gunderson, who also made his third appearance at state, could never really get anything going Tuesday, shooting an 80 for a two-day total of 155. Capistron putted better than Monday’s opening round, but a tough late stretch had the junior shoot an 83 for a two-day total of 164.

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“I think they saw some really low scores come in Monday, and they put some extra pressure on themselves,” Steamboat coach Steve Dodson said. “That can backfire. Some putts weren’t going in, and that can snowball into a long day.”

Tuesday’s round concluded the careers of Ptach and Gunderson. The two seniors had hopes of finishing in the top 10 after finishing tied for 11th at last year’s state championships.

But unexpectedly low scores Monday and struggles Tuesday had the two on the outside looking in.

Ptach started slow, double-bogeying four holes before he hit No. 15. Gunderson struggled with his putter all day but looked like he had turned it around after birdies at the par 5 Nos. 9 and 11. But he struggled on his last seven holes and clearly was disappointed in his round.

“There’s not really much to say about it,” Gunderson said. “I don’t even know what I was doing. I felt good about the season, but this, it kind of sucks.”

Capistron, fresh off hitting 13 greens Monday, struggled with his swing.

Still, he was only 4-over-par through 13 holes, before he played his next three at 5-over-par.

The junior, who was making his first appearance at state, said despite shooting two rounds higher than he expected, for a first time it was a good experience.

“I wasn’t nervous on the first tee” Tuesday, Capistron said. “I’m going to take a break from golf for a bit, but I’m looking forward to it next year.”

Despite the disappointment for Steamboat’s trio, the year wasn’t all bad.

Steamboat won several tournaments as a team, and Gunderson had several individual low medalist honors.

The year even has Ptach thinking long term.

Ptach said after he made the state tournament as a sophomore, he thought about not playing his junior or senior years. Now he’s not ruling out trying to play in college.

“Playing the last couple of tournaments, I’ve thought about how much I love the sport,” he said. “I love how competitive it is. I love how it messes with your mind. I have been thinking more and more that I want to keep playing.”

Valor Christian’s Wyndham Clark won the tournament, coming from three shots back after the first day to shoot a two-day total of 136. Clark shot a 67 on Tuesday to chase down Day 1 leader Drew Trujillo, of Montrose. Trujillo shot a 72 on Tuesday for a two-day total of 138.

Valor Christian won the tournament with a 429. Rock Canyon was second with a 435.

Golf results

T 35. Scott Ptach 76-79 – 155

T 35. Kaelen Gunderson 75-80 – 155

T 58. Alan Capistron 81-83 – 164

Steamboat finished 12th out of 15 teams.

12. 232-242 – 474