by Gary Baines
After 44 years of competing annually in the boys Junior America's Cup competition, Colorado's representatives finally had the pleasure of having the team trophy presented to them on Thursday afternoon.
Colorado, which had never before finished better than third place in the prestigious junior event, won the JAC team championship this week after competing in the event since 1975. The Junior America's Cup now features 18 teams from the western U.S., Canada and Mexico.
And to add icing to the cake for Colorado, Dillon Stewart of Fort Collins captured the individual title out of the field of 72 on Thursday.
Team-wise, the Coloradans overcame a three-stroke deficit entering the final round at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort Golf Course in Anaconda, Mont., rallying to overcome Utah and Mexico. The foursome representing the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado posted a 7-under-par 209 on Thursday, giving the team a three-day total of 26-under-par 622. That was one better than Mexico, three better than Utah and four better than fourth-place Arizona.
Prior to Thursday, Colorado's best showings at the JAC were third places in 2011 (at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen) and in 2015. The JGAC team was fourth last year.
As for Stewart, the senior-to-be at Fossil Ridge High School prevailed by two strokes for the individual title. Stewart, who will play his college golf at perennial national power Oklahoma State starting in 2019, carded rounds of 64-68-68 for a 16-under-par 200 total. Last month's AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior champion finished the week with an eagle, 20 birdies, four bogeys and one double bogey for 54 holes.
Stewart was competing in his second JAC, having placed 13th individually last year. He qualified for this year's U.S. Junior Amateur.
Joining Stewart on Colorado's JAC championship team were Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch, Davis Bryant of Aurora and Walker Franklin of Broomfield. Bryant was playing on his fourth JAC team, McCoy his second and Franklin his first. The team captain once again this year was Dustin Jensen, the former CGA managing director of operations, who is now an associate dean at the University of Jamestown (N.D.), his alma mater.
The University of Denver-bound McCoy placed 14th on Thursday, closing with a 69 for a 212 total. Bryant, the incoming Colorado State University golfer who finished ninth individually in last year's JAC, tied for 17th this week at 213.
The 16-year-old Franklin finished 27th at 215.
(The champions are pictured, from left: Franklin, Jensen, Stewart, McCoy and Bryant.)
Check back later for reaction and additional photos and details from the boys JAC.
1. (out of 18 teams) Colorado 205-208-209--622
1. Dillon Stewart, Fort Collins 64-68-68--200
14. Cal McCoy, Highlands Ranch 71-72-69--212
17. Davis Bryant, Aurora 70-70-73--213
27. Walker Franklin, Broomfield 73-70-72--215
For all the scores from the JAC, CLICK HERE.