Beetham, Aspen golfers tame The Bridges | AspenTimes.com

Beetham, Aspen golfers tame The Bridges

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

MONTROSE, Colo. – Aspen is playing a lot of miniature golf these days.

That is how head coach Mary Woulfe rewards her players for notching an individual or team victory. And if the season’s first week is any indication, expect the practice to become a regular occurrence this fall.

Jesse Beetham fired a 2-under par 69 in Wednesday’s Montrose Invitational at The Bridges to finish second. His effort helped propel the Skiers to a first-place finish among 3A schools. Ryan Smith pitched in with 78 and Clayton Crawford carded 79 for Aspen, which wound up third overall.

Host Montrose, which had two players shoot 70, captured the team title with a score of 216. Fruita Monument, buoyed by medalist Joey Saad’s 68, wound up second.

The Skiers have finished first among 3As in three straight tournaments to open the season. (Monday’s event at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction was canceled after 12 holes because of inclement weather.)

Saad and Beetham jockeyed for the top spot all afternoon. Beetham, who trailed by one stroke heading into the final hole, hit his final approach to about 21⁄2 feet; Saad’s ball came to rest 6 inches from the cup, Woulfe said. Both converted their birdie putts.

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“Talk about frustrating,” the coach added.

Still, Beetham’s effort was quite an improvement; he finished with 79 on Tuesday at Tiara Rado in Grand Junction.

“And this course is a whole lot harder than Tiara Rado,” Woulfe said. “There’s large water hazards and native grass on every hole. … It feels like you’re always looking at a bunker or water on both sides. It’s brutally difficult visually.

“[Beetham] was just striping the ball. … It was an amazing day of ball striking.”

The sophomore could have posted a lower score; he missed “five or six” birdie putts inside 10 feet.

“That’s way encouraging,” Beetham said. “I got off to a weak start and I was thinking it was going be another day like [Tuesday]. I was 2-over through the first four holes. … I just played really good on the back nine. I kind of gradually made my way back.”

Aspen will look to continue its early season success in Thursday’s tournament at Montrose’s Black Canyon Golf Club.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com