Golf: Aspen High’s Will Hazen 2nd at state
The Aspen Times
EAGLE — Aspen’s Will Hazen reached into his golf bag and pulled out his best round of the season.
Under the pressure of the State Golf Championships and playing in his final round as a senior, Hazen putted his way up the leaderboard to a dramatic second-place finish Tuesday in the 3A state tournament at the Eagle Ranch Golf Club.
Hazen shot an even-par 72 under mostly sunny conditions with variable winds on the 6,039-yard course tucked into the Eagle Ranch residential development in the expansive Brush Creek valley on the outskirts of Eagle.
The Aspen senior had the second-lowest round of the day, behind only individual medalist Sam Taylor of Peak to Peak High School of Lafayette.
Taylor won the Class 3A state championship with a final-round 69 on Tuesday — the only under-par round of the two-day tournament at Eagle Ranch. Taylor finished 72-69 — 141. He won the state title by nine strokes.
Hazen, Ivan Richmond of Estes Park and Oliver Jack of Kent Denver all shot composite 150s for second with Hazen’s 72 the lowest round of the group.
Richmond shot 76-74—150; Jack shot 75-75—150; Hazen shot 78-72—150.
Hazen’s card helped the Aspen Skiers to a third-place finish in the 3A competition.
Aspen teammate Jack Hughes, a freshman, shot 81-82—163. Dom Lanese, also a freshman, shot 88-80—168. Burke Daily, an AHS senior, added a 91-81—172.
The top three scores netted a 480 for Aspen, good for third.
Peak to Peak, led by Taylor’s individual title, won the team trophy with a 453.
Kent Denver finished second at 262 with Aspen third (480).
Eaton finished fourth at 488 with the Basalt Longhorns in fifth at 492.
Basalt’s Holden Kleager finished in a tie for sixth place Tuesday with his scores of 76-79—155.
Brother and teammate Linc Kleager shot 75-84—159. Drew Broadhurst of the Longhorns shot 92-86—176.
“This means a lot,” Aspen’s Hazen said just outside the clubhouse at Eagle Ranch as he accepted congratulations Tuesday evening. “I had a little bit of a rough season, coming off injury in the summer.”
But a steady path back to competition — and a crash course in putting put Hazen on the podium at state.
“I think the best part of my day, both days of the tournament, is my putting,” Hazen said. “I’ve been working so hard on it. Eighty percent of my time probably was putting last week. I had only one three-putt in the whole tournament.”
That’s one three-putt in 36 holes of state championship golf — in blustery and occasionally wet weather Monday and breezy but dry conditions Tuesday.
“On my putting, I was really confident, and I kept a good stroke on every one of them,” he said after finishing the front nine at 2-under 35 on Tuesday. Hazen also had a lip-out on No. 18 — a putt that would have given him an under-par round at state.
“I hit a really good putt; played a little too much break,” he said. “But that happens.”
He said he avoided trouble Tuesday on the course that is lined with houses along one side with tight fairways throughout.
A water hazard — more like water torture — guards the approaches at No. 8 and No. 18 at Eagle Ranch. And with gusty winds across the course at 18, the finishing pond collected several sleeves of golf balls Tuesday.
But none from Will Hazen.
“I hit a couple of iffy balls, but just in the rough,” Hazen said, adding that he stayed away from the pesky tall native grass.
“Yes, to finish like this is really special,” said Hazen, the son of Brian and Brigid Hazen.
“Really proud, and I’m really proud of the team,” he said of the Skiers, led by head coach Mary Woulfe.
In a titanic battle of 35-year-old local superstars, John Gaston outdueled Simi Hamilton on Saturday to win the fourth iteration of the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race.
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