Aspen’s Crawford tops field on home course |

Aspen’s Crawford tops field on home course

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

John Walla/Special to The Aspen TimesThe Skiers' Clayton Crawford hits a shot out of a bunker on the 18th hole during Tuesday's Skiers Invitational at the Aspen Golf Club.

ASPEN – The home course has traditionally been unkind to the Aspen golf team in tournament play – a fact that head coach Mary Woulfe and her players cannot seem to figure out.

In last fall’s Skiers Invitational, no player from the host squad finished lower than 82. A year earlier, Coulter Young led the way with an 89 for The Skiers, who wound up 11th out of 14 teams.

Consider that trend a thing of the past now, thanks to Clayton Crawford. The standout freshman shook off a slow start on a blustery Tuesday afternoon to post a 2-over par 74 and earn medalist honors for a second time this season. Battle Mountain’s Dillon McDonald and Andrew Sady, Fruita Monument’s Eric Jacobs and Rifle’s Danny Bartels finished second with 77s.

Crawford’s effort helped lead Aspen to a second-place finish with 238 points. Battle Mountain (232) captured the team title and Fruita Monument (241) rounded out the Top 3. Basalt (264) wound up ninth.

“I think the boys know the course so well and are so comfortable here. They know what’s possible. … You’d think it’d be an advantage, but it just has not been for us. I think they get out in tournaments and are a little tighter and not playing their normal game,” Woulfe said.

“We usually don’t get the job done here. Clayton got the job done today.”

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Crawford, who also won Aug. 30’s tournament at Glenwood Springs Golf Club, started poorly Tuesday. He bogeyed his first two holes and was 3-over through six.

“I made a couple mental errors,” he admitted. “I really had to grind after that.”

He regrouped with birdies at Nos. 7, 15 and 16 and strolled to No. 18 at 1-over. Crawford ran into trouble from there, however, hitting a tee shot that rolled into a fairway bunker, leaving him no clear look at the green. He managed to escape with a bogey to preserve the three-shot win.

“I play here all the time, so I think I’m used to it. … It always gives you confidence when you play well,” Crawford said. “Conditions were tough and the greens were tricky today.”

Those trying conditions led to some inflated scores from Crawford’s teammates. Jesse Beetham finished with 81, Joseph Kistner 83 and Tommy Doyle 84. Ryan Smith opted not to play.

Beetham followed up a solid drive at No. 1 with a poor approach, then four-putted from about 30 feet. He opened with back-to-back double bogeys.

“I need a lot of work, that’s for sure,” Beetham said. “I putted so bad, I wasn’t [rolling] it like I usually do. … [I regrouped] especially on the front. I only had one more bogey, at [No.] 8. Then I struggled again on the back nine.”

Added Woulfe: “Certainly all the guys could’ve shot a lot better … but this was a great showing.”

The Skiers’ downvalley rivals had mixed results Tuesday. Dylan Rakowski paced Basalt with an 83, while teammates Tristan Rohrbaugh and Robert Pettit shot 89 and 92, respectively.

Rakowski’s round featured a 35-foot birdie putt, two double bogeys and some misfortune; the sophomore’s back foot slipped during his drive at No. 18, and Rakowski went on to make bogey.

“I just wasn’t hitting greens – I hit like seven [in regulation],” Rakowski said. “It was definitely a struggle. This is a tough course. You have to know where to hit the ball.”

Next up for Aspen and Basalt is a trip to regionals Sept. 21 at The Links at Cobble Creek in Montrose.

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