Aspen golfers fourth at state |

Aspen golfers fourth at state

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GREELEY, Colo. – The Aspen golf team entered the 3A state tournament expecting to contend for a team title.

Jesse Beetham played well enough to keep the Skiers in contention Monday and Tuesday at Eaton Country Club, outside Greeley. Unfortunately, his teammates did not follow the sophomore’s lead.

Beetham finished with three birdies in his final four holes Tuesday to post a 3-under par 68 – the tournament’s low round. The effort gave him a two-day total of 142 and a tie for second individually.

No other Aspen player cracked the Top 25, however. Regional winner Clayton Crawford fired a 78 and 79 to finish 27th, Ryan Smith (78, 83) tied for 35th and Coulter Young (80, 82) wound up tied for 39th for the Skiers, who finished fourth out of 12 teams.

Basalt freshman Tristan Rohrbaugh (91, 88), the Longhorns’ lone state representative, finished in a tie for 71st.

Medalist Ethan Freeman’s rounds of 69 and 70 helped propel Kent Denver to a fifth consecutive team title. The Sun Devils had three golfers finish in the Top 13.

“We had a pretty good chance. We were nine or 10 shots out [of first] at the start today,” Aspen assistant coach Brian Dalla Betta said. “We just couldn’t get things going today.”

Added head coach Mary Woulfe: “It’s a strong showing for us, but we all know we have a lot more potential than that. Golf is hard. It’s hard to have everybody play their best on a given day. … We didn’t have it today from a team standpoint, but I’m happy for Jesse.”

A day after struggling with the driver and having to scramble to shoot 3-over 74, Beetham got off to a strong start Tuesday. He birdied his first hole – “That was a bonus for me. I usually don’t start well,” he said – and made the turn at 2-under.

Then, he experienced some misfortune. His drive at No. 10 landed in a fairway bunker, leading to bogey. Another unfortunate break led to bogey at No. 11; Beetham’s tee shot came to rest near a sprinkler head, and he was not given relief.

“I just tried to keep him in the moment, keep him positive about what he could control,” Dalla Betta said. “I just told him to stay focused on what was ahead and that birdies would come. They did. It was fun to watch.”

Beetham, who had just 25 putts in the round, rolled in birdies at Nos. 15, 16 and 18 to vault into a tie for second place with Luke Condon of Monte Vista.

“I’m proud of his growth and maturity, and how he’s handling his frustrations with bad shots in a much more mature way,” Woulfe said of Beetham. “He managed the game at a much higher level. … It was a very strong performance. He was making really good decisions and striping the ball.

“The disappointment we faced as a team not placing in the Top 3 was overshadowed by [his effort]. Rightly so.”

While the rest of the Aspen contingent played solidly, they could not avoid the big numbers, Dalla Betta said.

“I don’t everyone was nervous, they just had some bad holes,” Beetham added. “I thought it was going to be an easy course, but it played hard. … It was tight with a lot of trees out there.”

Despite the disappointment, the Skiers, who were sixth at state last season at Cougar Canyon Golf Course in Trinidad, leave Eaton with some confidence.

All four state tournament participants return next fall, and Aspen loses just one senior.

“That’s scary when you think about it,” Woulfe said. “We have all the potential in the world to step up and win …”

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