AURORA | Amid all the celebration that surrounded him, Spencer Painton wanted just one thing Tuesday: sleep.
Moments after securing his first individual state championship and helping boost his team to a fourth consecutive Class 5A state title, the Regis Jesuit senior had a bit of exhaustion wash over him.
Part of it was the whipping wind that picked up over the last handful of holes in Tuesday’s final round at Murphy Creek G.C., but the rest was the concentration it required for Painton to shoot a sizzling 6-under par for the tournament, giving the Raiders the individual and team winner for the second time in the past three seasons.
Gus Lundquist also did it in 2011.
“I’m ecstatic and enthusiastic, but I’m also ready to take a nap,” Painton quipped after he survived the blustery late conditions to finish at even par in the final round.
“It was a fun day, but with these conditions, it took a lot out of you,” he continued. “The last six or seven holes it started to pick up and made it tough.”
Regis Jesuit was an impressive 4-under-par as a team after the first round, but coach Craig Rogers knew his team — which included three holdovers from last season’s title winning team in seniors Painton, Jake Kelley and Chris Korte — had a better day in them for the final round.
Rogers was right, as his senior trio all finished in the top seven and the Raiders won by a whopping 23 strokes, more than double their best margin in the previous three championship victories.
“They are just amazing; they are so good and so mature,” Rogers said. “Sometimes you coach quite a bit, but sometimes you just soak it in and enjoy. They’ve worked so hard and their games are so strong.
“Emotionally, mentally and physically, they were clicking on all cylinders.”
With a fantastic final round — including a birdie on the par 3, Hole No. 17 that astounded the gathered gallery — Kelley came within one shot of Painton in the final few holes, but settled for a total of 4-under 140 that tied him with Legacy’s Li Chen for second place.
Kelley could hardly wipe the smile of his fact after his birdie on No. 17, which most called the toughest hole on the course and which he double bogeyed in the opening round.
“The birdie on 17 felt good,” he said. “I could have gone a little bit lower with the putting, but I hit it well. It was a great day.”
Korte gave the Raiders a third finisher in the top 10 with his seventh place result — on a 3-over 147 for the tournament — which helped Regis Jesuit finish well clear of Ralston Valley to win the sixth state golf title in school history, joining the last three teams as well as those in 1979 and 1984, before the school moved from North Denver to Aurora.
Junior Jack Lazzeri’s score wasn’t needed, but he played well and finished tied for 26th.
Coming into the tournament, Painton wanted to shoot as low as possible to help the team if any of his teammates struggled at all. He did just that, recording one of the best individual performances seen in a long time at the 5A state tournament.
Expectations were high after he shot a 4-under 68 a few weeks earlier at Murphy Creek during regional qualifying, but few anticipated the string of six consecutive birdies he launched to end his opening round.
The run rocketed him into the lead going into the final round and after a seven-hole battle with friend and playing partner Chen of Legacy, Painton took over and led all the way to the finish. He lost three strokes while battling the wind on the final few holes, but made an impressive par on No. 18 to wrap up the title.
Since qualifying for state as a freshman while he was at Grandview, Painton had set a goal of winning individually, but was also glad it helped bring home a team championship.
“I set the goal of winning individually, but I didn’t know it would be like this,” said Painton, who celebrated his win with a chest bump with his father, Tim.
“I’m glad I made the switch (to Regis Jesuit) and I’m glad I could do it for these guys,” he added. It was a great way to give back to the program that’s done so much for me.”
Korte — who was a bit overshadowed by the performances of Painton and Kelley at state — was proud that his team carried the weight of expectations through the season and finished it off.
“It was tough, there was some pressure ” Korte said. “We could have played better, but that’s golf. We worked hard and this was a great culmination to the season.”
With four straight titles, Regis Jesuit is now within striking distance of the ThunderRidge dynasty that won six straight championships between 2001 and 2006.
Lazzeri admitted to being nervous playing with the three talented seniors, but he soaked up everything they had to offer in hopes of extending the tradition.
“It feels pretty good, although they didn’t use my scores,” Lazzeri said. “They taught me a lot as teammates, so hopefully next year we can do it again.”
2013 Class 5A Boys State Golf Tournament
Final round at Murphy Creek G.C.
Team scores: 1. REGIS JESUIT 212-213 — 425; 2. Ralston Valley 221-227 — 448; 3. Cherry Creek 222-228 — 450; 4. Legacy 225-230 — 455; T5. Heritage 230-226 — 456; T5. Fairview 225-231 — 456; T7. Boulder 232-227 — 459; T7. Grand Junction 230-229 — 459; 9. Arapahoe 238-223 — 461; 10. Columbine 229-242 — 471; 11. Fort Collins 236-237 — 473; 12. Douglas County 228-250 — 478; 13. Fossil Ridge 247-232 — 479; 14. Monarch 243-248 — 491; 15. Loveland 251-251 — 502
Top 10 individuals (par 72-72 — 144): 1. SPENCER PAINTON (REGIS JESUIT) 66-72 — 138; T2. JAKE KELLEY (REGIS JESUIT) 71-69 — 140; T2. Li Chen (Legacy) 67-73 — 140; T4. DEVYN SOLANO (GRANDVIEW) 75-70 — 145; T4. Grant Rogers (Boulder) 78-67 — 145; 6. AJ Ott (Fort Collins) 73-73 — 146; T7. CHRIS KORTE (REGIS JESUIT) 75-72 — 147; T7. Troy Dangler (Fruita Monument) 78-69 — 147; T7. Donny Kinnaman (Grand Junction) 72-75 — 147; T10. Hunter Lee (Heritage) 75-73 — 148; T10. Neil Tillman (Ralston Valley) 74-74 — 148; T10. Sam Marley (Arapahoe) 74-74 — 148; T10. Kobe Padilla (Cherry Creek) 73-75 — 148
Aurora results: 1. Spencer Painton (Regis Jesuit) 66-72 — 138; T2. Jake Kelley (Regis Jesuit) 71-69 — 140; T4. Devyn Solano (Grandview) 75-70 — 145; T7. Chris Korte (Regis Jesuit) 75-72 — 147; T17. Bradley Scalia (Cherokee Trail) 72-78 — 150; T26. Jack Lazzeri (Regis Jesuit) 78-75 — 153; T59. Joe Slocum (Overland) 81-81 — 162; T59. Kyle Carr (Grandview) 80-82 — 162; T68. Paul Cleveland (Smoky Hill) 88-80 — 168; 84. Kyle Colen (Smoky Hill) 101-90 — 191
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel