Aspen golfers keep rolling |

Aspen golfers keep rolling

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen golf coach Mary Woulfe raves about her young players’ maturity – their innate ability to both be competitive and supportive of one another.

“They’re playing well together … and pushing each other to do bigger and better things,” the coach said Thursday. “It’s great to see.”

Great for the Skiers, but a nightmare for the opposition. Aspen has lived up to the preseason hype thus far, having won six of seven tournaments – most by substantial margins.

How impressive has the run been? Consider this: The Skiers sent a junior varsity team to a tournament in Meeker last week and Cameron Ortega, whom Woulfe says is 16th on the team’s depth chart, fired a 78 to lead Aspen to a second-place finish.

“What’s been surprising to me is the depth on this team. We don’t really have a junior varsity.” Woulfe said. “All the kids are performing phenomenally. As a coach, I’m just ecstatic. I really couldn’t be happier.”

At the top of the depth chart, standout Clayton Crawford appears to have rounded into form after some early inconsistencies. In Monday’s Rifle High School Invitational at Rifle Creek Golf Course, site of Sept. 20’s regional tournament, the sophomore carded 2-under on both the front and back nines en route to earning medalist honors with a 68.

“He’s really put in the time and the energy, and he was striping the ball cleanly and sinking putts,” Woulfe said. “He’s just playing really solid golf. He’s coming right along.”

Teammates Jesse Beetham and Ryan Smith finished with 74 and 75, respectively, Monday for the Skiers, who posted a team total of 217 – 15 shots clear of host Rifle.

Collectively, the trio went one stroke lower at the Huskies Invitational at Eagle-Vail Golf Club on Wednesday. Crawford and Beetham shared medalist honors with 72s (Crawford picked up another win by virtue of a scorecard playoff)‚ and Smith finished with 73. The effort was good for a 14-shot victory.

“That was the first time all three shot in the low 70s together. What a really good showing,” Woulfe said.

“They’re all really good friends, but they’re keeping an eye on each other – they want to be in that top spot. It’s shuffled around this year quite a bit. At the same time, it is not as much about that as it is getting everybody to play together. I think they realize that. That’s what you have to do to beat Faith [Christian], Kent Denver as well as Eaton and Alexander Dawson and all the other teams that did well [at state] last year.”

The Skiers are slated to take the next week-plus off from tournament play. They will not tee it up again until Sept. 6 in Vail.

Woulfe said the respite is necessary to help the team get acclimated at school. She’s also hoping her players will be rested and ready for what promises to be an intriguing postseason push.

“In some ways, [the break] is good. We really need to regroup from competition and spend a tremendous amount of time on the short game to solidify what we’re doing,” Woulfe said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

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