Defending champ tops field |

Defending champ tops field

— It only took nine holes for Greeley Central’s Nick Umholtz to put a disappointing regional behind him and to prove that he is a contender for the 4A state high school state title.

“Regional was a tough day,” said Umholtz, who won last year’s state tournament. “I couldn’t get any momentum. I was fighting my swing, I was fighting the wind and never seemed to have the right club in my hand. But I put that round behind me. I had a lot of confidence coming into this and just tried to take it one shot at a time.”

Umholtz, who shot a 79 at the regional championship a few weeks ago, rolled through the first nine holes of the tournament at the Haymaker Golf Course on Monday.

He made the turn at six strokes under par, and after a challenging back nine, finished the round five strokes under par at 67.

“I made three bogeys on the back, and my driver went a little wayward on me, but that’s golf,” Umholtz said.

But the Greeley golfer finished the round with a birdie.

“That was huge,” Umholtz said. “You don’t want to end going bogey, bogey, par, par. A birdie there really helps for (today).”

Umholtz will need to be on top of his game when he returns today.

Kent Denver’s Gunner Wiebe is on his tail after finishing second at 68, and Cheyenne Mountain’s Justin Spray and Colorado Academy’s Mike Hubbard are both at 69.

Kent Denver took the early lead in the team race behind Wiebe’s strong finish and the efforts of his teammates Matt Shovee at 71 and Beau Schoolcraft at 75.

Greeley Central is just two strokes back thanks to Umholtz and teammates Brandon Tomasovich and Parker Edens. Tomasovich, who won the regional title, finished at 73, and Edens shot a 76.

Cheyenne Mountain is third at 222, Pueblo West is fourth at 226, and Ralston Valley is fifth at 231. Steamboat Springs is still in the hunt at 234 along with Basalt at 236.

The second day of the Class 4A state high school golf championships will continue today at Haymaker. The first players are scheduled to tee off at 10 a.m.

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