Beetham medals in Rifle | AspenTimes.com

Beetham medals in Rifle

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jeff Caspesen/Post IndependentAspen senior Jesse Beetham follows his shot Friday during the Rifle Invitational at Rifle Creek Golf Course.

RIFLE – Jesse Beetham missed out on an individual victory Thursday by mere inches.

In Friday’s Rifle Invitational at Rifle Creek Golf Course, the senior left nothing to chance. Beetham shook off a sluggish start and closed with a flourish, birdying five holes to finish two shots clear of the field with a 1-under-par 71.

“This definitely gives me a lot of confidence,” Beetham said. “I’m learning a few things about my swing with my rhythm and stuff. It’s starting to click.”

Clayton Crawford and August So carded 74 and 78, respectively, for the Skiers, who finished a busy week with a fifth 3A team title in as many days. Their 223 points were just two fewer than 4A Rifle, which had four players shoot 74 or better.

Dylan Rakowski and Tristan Rohrbaugh finished with 77 and 79, respectively, for Basalt (245), which took fourth. The Longhorns were without two of their varsity starters, who had previous commitments.

“Where we had one score in the 70s (Thursday), now we’ve got two. Of course, we’re looking for that third,” Basalt head coach Al Rakowski said. “Who knows, maybe our biggest threat will come later in the season. We’re just building up momentum and starting to feel comfortable with one another.”

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Beetham was anything but comfortable in the early going Tuesday. Starting at No. 10, he found himself 4-over after seven holes – a brutal stretch he blamed on a lack of focus and some errant tee shots.

He turned things around on his back nine. He sank a long birdie putt at No. 1, then hit a wedge to about a foot on the par-5 second and tapped in for another birdie.

He drove the green at the par-4 seventh, then left his eagle putt about an inch short.

“I left three birdie putts on the lip on that side, too, so it could’ve been 7- or 8-under just as easily,” said Beetham, who matched his score from last year’s regional tournament in Rifle. “If I can eliminate those bogeys, things will start going really well.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com