The tournament will be the first time Montrose has hosted a men's prep state golf championship. In 2009, the state 4A women’s championship was held in Montrose, also for the first time.
The Montrose High School golf team has put forth a solid season this year, winning four tournaments to add to the team's nine top-three finishes to date.
During regional competition last week in Cortez, the Indians fell short of fielding an entire team for the state tournament. The team's lone state competitor so far is junior Riley Willis, who shot a season-best even par 72 at Conquistador Golf Course. Teammates Jacob Hebbel, who shot a 79, and Cole Brennecke who carded an 80, are both listed as alternates for next week's, two-day tournament.
"All in all, I thought we had a good season, winning four tournaments,” said head golf coach Angelo DeJulio, who is also the assistant PGA professional at Cobble Creek. “Regionals could have went either way."
This week, DeJulio and his trio of state hopefuls will have the advantage of practicing on their home course, a 7,000-yard, par 72 links-style track built on former grazing land. "The toughest challenge out here is keeping the ball in play –there is a lot of water out here – and trying to keep it out of the bunkers," said Willis, of what’s the toughest challenge for someone who has never played the course.
On the practice range Tuesday, DeJulio was offering encouraging tips to help the players fine-tune their swings.
"I like to see him [Willis] play aggressive and take dead aim. He's playing very good golf right now, there is no reason he shouldn't play well; he knows the course," DeJulio said.
For Hebbel and Brennecke, practice this week is overshadowed with the uncertainty of making the tournament's field.
"I think you need to be ready to play Monday," DeJulio told Hebbel.
DeJulio said players can expect faster then normal greens and a half dozen or so "tough pins," to give the course a high level of difficulty. He said the course's maintenance staff has begun rolling the greens to make them slicker, and that the tees will be stretched back, making the holes play longer.
Traveling with the 84 competitors are parents, coaches and officials, so that the event it likely to give a boost to the local economy over the two-day event. Jenni Sopsic of the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism said Tuesday an alert message had been sent out to local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, in preparation for the tournament.
"Were just sending this out to say, hey, heads up, this is coming to Montrose and we’re very, very excited," Sopsic said. Competition begins Monday morning, although most if not all of the competitors arrive this weekend to get in as much practice time on the course as is allowed.
"My goals for state is to just hang in there and not have any blowups, go for pars and let the birdies happen. I'm really excited because I'm really familiar with the course," Willis said.