River Smalley becomes 3rd Panther to sign letter of intent

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FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista’s River Smalley made big strides in 2018, and he expects a smooth start to his college golf career at Fort Lewis College because of it.

Smalley, who signed with the Skyhawks today via athletic scholarship, is also no stranger to FLC’s main course, the Hillcrest Golf Club. He’s teed off there plenty of times with PV.

“It’s a solid golf course. It’s got everything you need to get better. The range is great. The putting facility, short-game area, everything’s great,” Smalley said. “I’m definitely ready to go.”

Smalley got his first taste of a championship season in May when PV won the blue trophy. He also cherished the experience of learning from the professionals competing at the Pure Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee, a PGA Champions Tour event, in September.

Smalley said he greatly improved his performance in clutch moments on the course as 2018 progressed, learning to stay cool and collected in tougher times.

“I think that’ll drive me in college to be better, win championships,” Smalley said.

Smalley said he wants to fine tune as many areas of his game as he can while at Fort Lewis, an NCAA Division II program located in Durango, Colorado.

“That’ll help me be more consistent shooting lower scores, being toward the top of the leaderboard more frequently,” Smalley said.

Smalley is the third PV boys golfer in the last month to sign with a college golf program. Teammates Trey Diehl and Tyler Diehl signed with the New Mexico State University men's golf team on Nov. 14.

Smalley said he and the Diehl brothers have built a strong culture at PV, raising the bar for future Panther golfers.

“We practice and play all the time. Golf’s our life. (The program’s) going to be good for a long time to come after this,” Smalley said. “I think Trey, Tyler and I started something special here.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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