Unlikely golfer tops field at Aspen invite
September 16, 2009
ASPEN – Fruita Monument golfer Will Berg posted two rounds of 72 in his team’s season-opening qualifier. He has not broken 80 in the month since.
The freshman’s play has been so inconsistent that he dropped to sixth on the Wildcats’ depth chart. Had Fruita’s top three players made the trip to Tuesday’s Aspen High School Invitational, Berg likely would not have had a chance to play.
He was in the field – and ended up on top of the leaderboard.
On a day when soggy conditions spelled trouble for the bulk of the field, Berg fired a 5-over par 77 – one of only three scores in the 70s – to claim medalist honors. Steamboat Springs’ Alan Capistron (78), a winner here last year, and Gunnison Brandon Rodder (79) finished second and third, respectively.
“I haven’t been playing too good lately,” Berg said. “I couldn’t hit my irons at all [today]. My short game was good, though, which is really surprising.”
Kaelin Gunderson, Scott Plack and Skyler Martin all carded 81s for Steamboat, which won the overall team title with a score of 240. Gunnison (242) finished second and Fruita Monument (243) third.
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Conor Hansen fired an 82 – good for a tie for ninth individually – Ryan Smith finished with 84 and Joseph Kistner and Jesse Beetham wound up with 85s for Aspen, which finished fourth overall and second among 3As. Marty Knous shot 82 for Basalt (266), which tied with Eagle Valley for seventh out of 11 teams.
“The pin placements weren’t overly difficult … but on the wet ground you don’t get as much roll,” Skiers head coach Mary Woulfe said. “You had to be crisp out there. If you were a little off on your shot, you’d chunk it.”
Berg worked around a three-putt double bogey with what he deemed a very consistent round. Capistron, meanwhile, who somehow managed to pull out a win in Aspen in 2008 despite a double bogey on the first playoff hole, was scrambling for much of the day, he said.
At the par-4 16th, he hooked his
3-wood off the tee and was forced to punch out from under a tree on his second shot. He then missed the green, and wound up two-putting for double bogey.
That gaffe came five holes after he split the fairway off the tee with a hybrid at the par-4 11th, then hit a 9-iron that landed 5 feet from the hole; he converted for his lone birdie.
While soft conditions made for some difficult lies, Capistron said it slowed the greens, which allowed him to escape further trouble.
“I had lots of pars, which is good, and I was able to control the danger on the bad holes. I made some good bogeys,” he said. “You have to place shots here, you can’t just pound the driver. … I’m relatively straight with my shorter clubs.”
Capistron said Tuesday’s performance will increase his confidence heading into next Tuesday’s regional tournament at Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat.
Before they head to Haymaker, Aspen and Basalt will tee off Thursday morning at Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club in New Castle.