Aspen golfers second at state tournament
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
GUNNISON, Colo. – Ryan Smith figures adrenaline got the best of him on the front nine Tuesday.
After a birdie at the first hole during the final round of the 3A state tournament at Dos Rio Golf Club in Gunnison, the Aspen senior struggled through a five-hole stretch in which he shot 6-over – including a triple bogey at No. 5.
“After that tap in for birdie, I thought it was going to be a good day,” Smith said. “Then the wind picked up, and I was over the green on two. I couldn’t dial in my yardages for a while.
“I knew my teammates needed me. I knew I needed to step up and post a good score [on the back nine].”
He did just that. Smith shot a 3-under 33 coming in to finish with a 3-over par 74, matching his score Monday. That effort, coupled with some stellar performances from his teammates, helped Aspen secure second place in the team standings.
Jesse Beetham shot 74 and 72 to wind up fifth individually. Clayton Crawford shook off an 81 Monday to post 74 and finish in a tie for 17th for the Skiers, who scored 444 points. Basalt duo Dylan Rakowski (80, 71) and Tristan Rohrbaugh (79, 73) tied for 10th and 12th, respectively.
Alexander Dawson, seven strokes better than Aspen on Day 1, wound up third with 452 while Kent Denver shot 214 both days to dominate the field en route to clinching its sixth consecutive state crown.
The Sun Devils’ Ethan Freeman birdied his final three holes Tuesday to shoot 66 and secure a one-shot individual victory over Alexander Dawson’s Cole Nygren with a two-day total of 136.
“Kent Denver played so well under pressure,” Skiers head coach Mary Woulfe said. “They shot 214 both days – that’s very doable for us, but to do that in state competition under all that pressure is an amazing performance.”
Added Beetham: “I definitely feel like we could have done better and this was a missed opportunity, but we’re happy with second. … We hung in there and played the hardest we could.
“I scrambled, grinded a lot both days. It was tough at times, good at others. … I didn’t hit my driver too well all week, but my putting saved me on the first day. It killed me today.”
Beetham bogeyed three of his first six holes Tuesday but produced a birdie at the par-5 ninth to make the turn at 1-over.
He was even par on the back nine.
“It really could’ve been a lot better,” Beetham admitted. “I missed a three-footer for birdie on 11, and I was so mad I went and three-putted 12. … I wouldn’t say it was fully a success, but I held in there.”
So, too, did Crawford, whose first round was largely forgettable. He was 6-over through five holes Monday, then got in trouble in the trees at 18, leading to a quadruple bogey.
Coulter Young picked up his teammate, firing a 76 to keep Aspen in striking distance. Young wound up in a tie for 20th after a final-day 81.
“I was hitting the ball in not great spots and getting in trouble. It’s very narrow on the front nine, and there’s a big emphasis on accuracy,” Crawford said.
“I just had to forget about it. I figured I’d come out today, have nothing to lose and have some fun.”
Crawford struggled early Tuesday, finishing 4-over through five, but rebounded nicely to finish the day at 3-over.
“I played well, but unfortunately it was a little late,” he conceded. “I’m proud of the team. We could’ve folded after the first day, but we hung in there and fought all week. … We’ll take it. It’s not first, but it’s not bad either.”
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.