By Eric Heinz
Sawyer Klein was oh so close.
Maybe one putt drops here, another there, and the high school golf state championship would have been his.
After Klein shot the lowest score (a 3-under 69) of the first round of the Colorado High School Athletic Association’s 4A State Golf Championship at Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club, the second round proved to be a blustery and difficult trek.
Facing a back-left pin, Klein found himself in a greenside sand trap with 20 yards to go.
“The playoff hole was 18, and you can’t hit a driver,” Klein said. “I really hit a good tee shot, but I still had about 230 (yards) left to the green. So I hit a punchy hybrid into there and I just lost it way left. I was basically dead after that.”
Klein stumbled out of the gates on day two with a bogey on hole 1, a double bogey on hole 4 and another bogey on hole 8 to shoot a 4-over 40 on the front nine. He was able to corral two birdies on the back nine, but after another bogey on 16, he finished his round with a 3-over 75, making him even par for the tournament.
His chances had all but faded. Or had they?
Due to a scorecard issue with one of the players who finished 2-under for the tournament, Klein and three other players had new life. But Klein couldn’t muster a par on the first playoff hole, and Riverdale Ridge’s Bradley Weinmaster took home the title.
Klein’s coach, Ron Ramirez, said this is the best finish “in recent history” a North High student has had in a golf season, although seeing Klein lose in a playoff was “very, very heart-wrenching.”
“It was a tough day for a lot of kids on that front nine,” Ramirez said. “There weren’t a lot of red numbers from anyone in the field. Sawyer is really a top top student, so he’s really covered in on both ends, and he was our captain this year.”
Klein’s senior year was a gem: his low for the year was a sizzling 3-under 67 at Aurora’s Meadow hills, and his high for the season was a respectable 3-over at Kennedy in southeast Denver. What makes Klein’s high school career all the more impressive is he only started in high school.
“I really didn’t start playing until my freshman year,” Klein said, adding he played soccer before golf. “Golf just took over I guess. My dad’s golfed his whole life.”
Klein said staying resilient in the face of a difficult round is what he’ll remember most from his senior-year state championship bid.
“My takeaway from this is to just never give up,” he said. “Both days I had absolutely brutal starts. The first four holes on each day I was 5-over on those combined. I didn’t feel like I did too much wrong. It’s just a tough course.”
Klein said his biggest goal going forward is to play Division I golf, with hopes of going to Colgate College in New York or Weber State in Utah.