Florida teen leads Aspen Junior Golf Classic | AspenTimes.com

Florida teen leads Aspen Junior Golf Classic

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Contributed photoJake Leffew of Vero Beach, Fla., tracks his shot Tuesday during the first round of the Aspen Junior Golf Classic at the Aspen Golf Club. Leffew leads the 54-hole tournament after carding a 2-under 69.

ASPEN – Jake Leffew split the fairway with his drive at the first hole, hit a wedge to about 15 feet and buried his birdie putt.

The teenager from the beach sure looked at home in the mountains.

Leffew, who hails from Vero Beach, Fla., birdied three of his first six holes in Tuesday’s opening round of the 20th Aspen Junior Golf Classic at the Aspen Golf Club. He weathered some struggles on the back nine to finish with a 2-under 69 – good for a two-shot lead over the field.

“Getting off to a quick start is a huge asset when playing a golf course such as this,” Leffew said.

Harrison Murphy of McKinney, Texas, is second after 18 of 54 holes following his even-par 71. Four golfers are tied for third after carding 72s.

Woody Creek’s Jesse Beetham, who just wrapped up his junior year at Aspen High, fired the low round among a group of local competitors. He carded a 76 and is tied for 12th with a group that includes Longmont’s Cole Nygren, 2011’s Classic winner.

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Naomi Ko made an impressive statement in her bid to win this year’s girls title and join a list of previous winners that includes Paula Creamer and Hank Kuehne. Ko, a Victoria, British Columbia, product, birdied three holes on the back nine and finished with a 69, six shots better than Benicia, Calif.’s Kathleen Scavo.

“Whatever happens, I want to stay calm throughout the entire round – even if I get a bogey,” Ko said.

Leffew sure looked calm in his first open event with the American Junior Golf Association. After the ideal start at No. 1, he strung together consecutive pars before dipping further into the red with birdies at No. 4 and 6 – both par 4s.

His back nine was far less consistent. Leffew birdied 10, 12 and 15, bogeyed 11, 13 and 15, and then closed out the round with three consecutive pars.

Action continues today and wraps Thursday. A total of 96 players representing 11 states, South Korea and Canada are taking part.

Par-71, 7,046 yards

12t. Jesse Beetham, Woody Creek, 76

24. Dylan Rakowski, Carbondale, 77

29t. Clayton Crawford, Aspen, 78

29t. Ryan Smith, Snowmass Village, 78

63. August So, Aspen, 84