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Gunlikson earns berth to state championships


October 2, 2019

Jocelyn Rowley

Sophomore Christopher Gunlikson tees off on the first hole at Coyote Creek golf course while his coach and teammates look on at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament on Sept. 26.

Niwot boys golf coach Ed Weaver knew he had to act after his number one golfer, Christopher Gunlikson, lost six strokes on three holes during the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at Coyote Creek golf course on Sept. 26. The normally even-keeled sophomore went from at +2 after five holes to +8 after the eighth, putting him in danger of falling out of contention for a berth to the state championships on Oct. 7. So Weaver stepped-in and gave his top player some unexpected advice.

"After number eight, I could tell Christopher was frustrated, so I pulled him aside, and we had a conversation about where he was at, and what he needed to do," Weaver said. "And I told him to tuck in his shirt.... You'd be surprised, but little things like that make a big difference."

Clearly, something in Weaver's pep-talk made a big difference, as Gunlikson was substantially improved over the next ten holes, with eight pars, a birdie, and just a single bogey. He posted a 36 (+1) on the back nine, putting him at 80 (+9) for the round, which was good for 12th place overall. It was also well under the qualifying cut of 83, giving the second-year varsity player a spot at the upcoming state tournament in Montrose.

"He was eight strokes better," Weaver said. "I guarantee that conversation was part of him getting his head screwed around, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. After that, he was one over. He made the adjustments, and he recovered beautifully."

Shirt-tucking wasn't among the reasons Gunlikson noted for his improvement over the back nine, but the 10th grader acknowledged feeling calmer after the eighth hole.

"I started off really bad, probably my worst golf of the year," he said. "The first couple of holes, I was pretty nervous, more than usual. But as I got more comfortable, I was seeing the ball better. I made some swing adjustments, too, during the round, which really helped me."

Gunlikson was also helped by his solid short-game, which Weaver said was crucial for overcoming the tournament's challenging pin placements.

"There were some that were put in some really hard positions, like on the edges of the green. The pins were really set up for the top-20 kids, and it made things really difficult for the rest of the field."

That included Niwot's three other golfers, who fell short of the cut, though not by much, in the case of junior Luc Blondeau. The third-year varsity golfer finished his round "on the bubble" with an 83, but then lost a three-way playoff for the final qualifying berth.

Jocelyn Rowley

Head coach Ed Weaver (second from left) chats with players Christopher Gunlickson, Luc Blondeau and Ian Turner before their rounds at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at Coyote Creek golf course on Sept. 26.

Also competing for Niwot was freshman Carlos Kipkorir, who finished 55th overall and sophomore Ian Turner, who was 61st.

Gunlikson gets a 10-day break before heading to Montrose with Weaver next weekend. He said he plans to work on "ball striking, and keeping everything a little more consistent," during the interim week, and also plans to work on keeping his nerves in check.

"I'm just going to learn how to enjoy the pressure, and try to develop that calm attitude."

Weaver said that Gunlickson's success in the regular season and at Coyote Creek will help him on his sports' biggest stage.

"He had some tournaments where he played tee to green great, and didn't have as good a short game, and other rounds where he got up and down, but he was consistent with this scoring throughout. And after number eight today, he put all of that together. He just needs to play his game, and no big mistakes."


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