Crawford, Aspen golfers triumph in Montrose | AspenTimes.com

Crawford, Aspen golfers triumph in Montrose

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

MONTROSE, Colo. – It is going to take more than a steady breeze to derail Clayton Crawford.

The Aspen freshman seemingly has been unflappable this fall, recording numerous low rounds and picking up two victories. In Tuesday’s 3A regionals, on a blustery afternoon at The Links at Cobble Creek in Montrose, Crawford found himself on top of the leaderboard once more.

Crawford opened with a birdie at No. 10, made the turn at 1-over par and finished with 73 to earn medalist honors. Teammates Jesse Beetham, Ryan Smith and Coulter Young carded 76, 79 and 85, respectively, for the Skiers, who ran away with the team title and earned a state tournament berth for a second consecutive season. Their score was tops among both 3A and 4A schools.

Aspen’s team total of 228 points was 20 better than Gunnison. Rifle (254) wound up third.

“Clayton was impressive to watch. When it’s windy, it’s fun to watch him because he has a lot of control over how he flights the ball,” Aspen assistant coach Brian Dalla Betta said. “The wind was real challenging. Some of the guys got off to a poor start, but Clayton just played steady all day. He was hitting it real close with all his approach shots and was a little unlucky with his putts today.”

Added Skiers head coach Mary Woulfe: I’m really proud of the guys. This was a great showing, and it is such a good sign that Clayton just continues to play great golf. … The boys are just performing. If one is not No. 1, then the other is, which is great.”

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Crawford ran into little trouble during Tuesday’s round, which included two birdies, three bogeys and 13 pars. He could’ve gone lower; multiple close putts lipped out or burned the edges of the cup.

“I had some chances, but I can’t complain,” Crawford said. “I’ve been hitting the ball really well recently.”

While his teammate cruised, Beetham had to scramble to post 4-over 76. He opened with a bogey, a double bogey and a bogey before regrouping with back-to-back birdies.

“I mentioned to him that if he got the putter going, he was going to be in good shape. Sure enough, he made some putts and fought his way back,” Dalla Betta said.

Added Beetham: “I started horrible. I wasn’t really too nervous. I did start on three tough holes, although Clayton didn’t seem to have a problem with them. … the double bogey was really just one bad chip.

“The wind was killing me. Sometimes guys had to take three extra clubs. … I hung in there.”

Basalt’s Tristan Rohrbaugh attempted to do the same.

“I just tried to stay in play and not hit it out of bounds or in a hazard,” the freshman said.

Rohrbaugh opened with a double bogey and went on to bogey two of the next three holes. He kept things together, finishing with an 83 to earn a spot in the state tournament.

Tuesday was a largely forgettable day for the Longhorns. Robert Pettit carded an 87 and narrowly missed out on a chance to earn a state alternate shot. Dylan Rakowski and Austin Vannice finished with 95 and 105, respectively.

“Of course I’m disappointed. I at least thought we were going to send three guys,” Basalt head coach Al Rakowski said.

“Dylan started off with a par, then a triple. I kept saying, ‘There are a lot of holes left.’ Golf is a funny game. Sometimes [the mistakes] grow and fester, and sometimes you’re able to move on with it. … Some of our kids had rough starts and never could quite get it back together.”

That was not an issue for the Skiers, who are expecting big things when they head to state Oct. 4 and 5 at Eaton Country Club, north of Greeley.

“We’re really excited. Last year was really great fun, and this year we’ve got little Clayton coming with us,” Beetham joked. “[Our goal is] definitely to win. We think this is our year.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com