Aspen High School’s Clayton Crawford wins golf season opener
The Aspen Times
Aspen High School’s Clayton Crawford used a closing flurry of birdies Monday to win the first prep golf tournament of the season, the Grand Valley Invitational at Battlement Mesa.
Crawford, with four birdies on the back nine, shot a 3-under 69 to win by a single stroke over Tristan Rohrbaugh, of Basalt, who finished alone in second with a 70.
Will Hazen added a 74 to help the Skiers finish third in the 19-team tournament, second among the Class 3A schools in the multiclass event.
Class 5A Grand Junction won with a three-player total of 223.
Vail Christian was a shot back at 224.
Aspen finished third (227), five shots ahead of Fruita Monument.
Steamboat Spring was fifth (235), with Baalt sixth (237).
Rifle, Delta, Summit and Vail Mountain rounded out the top 10.
Crawford shook off two early bogeys with a string of pars through the middle part of his round.
“After the second bogey, I started playing pretty well,” Crawford said in a telephone interview with The Aspen Times. “I hit some good shots from there.”
His string of pars led to the birdie run late.
Birdies on No. 15 and No. 17 sealed his 3-under round to open the prep season.
“I was pleased with the first tournament,” Crawford said, adding that he was coming off a summer golf season of “ups and downs.”
He said he was encouraged with his steady play after the rough start.
“The course was in good shape, but there were tricky pin positions,” said the AHS senior, who also is an all-state basketball player.
Hazen also made a big comeback at Battlement Mesa on Thursday.
“I actually started poorly,” Hazen said. Two bogeys and a double bogey went on his card right away.
“But I played the next 14 holes in 2 under,” Hazen said. “You just have to stay positive (in that situation).”
He said his iron shots helped him recover.
“What saved me strokes was my putting (Thursday),” said Hazen, who’s round of 2-over par was good for seventh place individually.
Patrick Martin posted an 84 for the Skiers in the season opener.
Sydney Slossberg added an 87.
“Tristan had a great round,” Basalt coach Al Rakowski said of Rohrbaugh’s round of 2-under and his runner-up finish. “He’s a consistent player … four birdies, two bogeys.”
Nick Calabro added an 81 for the Longhorns in the first outing of the year, in spite of a pair of extra strokes on a provisional tee shot on the last hole of his round, Rakowski said.
Roger Gauthier completed the scoring for the Longhorns, shooting an 86. He’s a student at Glenwood Springs High School who’s playing golf for the Longhorns because the Demons don’t field a boys golf team.
Rakowski said he had to overcome a couple of big numbers, adding three birdies to his round.
“It’s early in the season, but I’m pleased,” the Basalt coach said.
His Longhorns will return to qualifying rounds before the next tournament Wednesday at Gypsum Creek, site of the regionals at the end of the season.
The Aspen Skiers will head to tournaments at Lakota Canyon, in New Castle, and Eagle/Vail on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
They’ll join the Longhorns at Gypsum Creek on Wednesday.
Both teams will play the unique Rifle Creek course next Thursday.
“We’ve got a busy schedule next week,” Crawford said. “It can help you get in a rhythm playing (back-to-back).”
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team fought off a couple of key injuries to finish in a 1-1 draw with visiting Roaring Fork on Thursday night on the AHS turf. Over in New Castle, Basalt girls soccer edged out Coal Ridge for a 1-0 win.