ARVADA — It was only the first hole, but Sam Theil didn’t do himself any favors. The Evergreen senior co-captain, starting on No. 18 at the Jefferson Academy Invitational on Aug. 16, fired a double bogey. It was a tough start for a player who struggles more with golf’s mental game than with the physical side.
But, then again, it was just one hole, and Theil quickly made sure that the 7,003-yard Indian Tree Golf Course didn’t beat him before he got started. Instead, he settled into a groove to card a 5-over-par 75 to be one of three Cougars in the top 10 as Evergreen shot a 231 total, topping Alexander Dawson by one stroke to win the 14-team field.
“My coach (Mike Kuzava) told me today no matter what try to keep an even keel. I tried to keep an even keel the entire day and it worked. It worked well,” Theil said.
That mindset had as much to do with Theil tying for second — though he was awarded third via a scorecard tiebreaker — than anything else. Marc Gordon of Denver East shot a 3-over 73 for top medalist honors. Theil tied Arapahoe’s Justin Goldsberry and Alexand Dawson’s Cam Connor being just two strokes back.
“It was kind of easy to get over it because it happened so early on the first nine. I wasn’t into game play yet,” Theil said. “I had a few good holes on the front nine and went on the back nine and came out well again.”
The Cougars’ Kyle Peterson tied for fifth with a 77, while Ben Moore shot a 79 and Kyle Malazdrewicz fired an 86.
“I was confident that we would have a good team, but you never know until you go out and play,” Kuzava said. “Each of our tournaments a different guy has stepped up and played well. I think it’s going to continue. What we have to do is just keep trying to improve a little bit each time. I like where we stand. We’ll try to be at our best when the state tournament comes, but so far I couldn’t ask for more.”
While Evergreen was the cream of the crop, Front Range Christian struggled. The Falcons came in 12th, 50 shots back of the Cougars. Senior Brax Rhode was one of the few bright spots for Front Range Christian, carding a 90.
“Today was pretty tough going,” Front Range Christian head coach Jeff Sloan. “The only bright spot was that our other senior (Rhode) kind of turned it on a bit for him to shoot a 90. We were all in the 90s today. It’s a tough course.”
Fellow senior Jared Sloan carded a 92, Ben Anderson fired a 99 and Joe Yeager scored a 100.
The end result, however, wasn’t a concern for Coach Sloan since it was an invitational and not a 3A Mile High League match. But he could tell that playing three tournaments in the past week was taking a toll on his Falcons.