Golf leaderboard has international flavor | AspenTimes.com

Golf leaderboard has international flavor

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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ASPEN Unseasonably cool temperatures and a lingering drizzle pestered participants in Tuesday’s opening round of the junior all-star tournament at the Aspen Golf Course. Clear skies Wednesday for Round 2 were a welcome respite. While the weather conditions changed, the names at the top of the boys and girls leaderboards remained the same. Santiago Gavino of San Luis Potosi, Mexico – one of three competitors out of 89 who live outside the U.S. – and Chessy Thomas of Spokane, Wash., maintained their first-round leads. The 15-year-olds will be the players the rest of the field tries to catch in today’s final round. Gavino shot an even-par 35 on the front nine and recorded three birdies on the back Tuesday en route to a 1-under-par 70.Despite hitting 15 greens in regulation Wednesday, he bogeyed three holes on the front, and two to open the final nine. He salvaged a round of 74 with two birdies on 13 and 17, and holds a one-shot edge over Kramer Hickock of Plano, Texas.”The best part of my game was my ball striking,” Gavino said in an America Junior Golf Association news release. “I am feeling good about tomorrow and will get mentally prepared.”Tamer conditions didn’t necessarily produce better results; four of the top six boys had higher scores in Round 2. Hickock bucked that trend. He sat in a tie for ninth after opening with a 75 but rebounded with a 70 – Wednesday’s low round.

The strongest turnaround among golfers in the top 10 belonged to Denver’s Jonathan Park. Park improved from 79 to 71, and vaulted from a tie for 26th into a tie for eighth.

Aspen’s A.J. Morris (tied for 49th) and Carbondale’s Micah Evonitz (tied for 70th) sit well back after posting two-day totals of 23-over and 41-over, respectively. Just seven shots separate first place from 10th.”We’re set for an exciting final round,” tournament director Katie French said.

There’s little drama on the girls side. Thomas had a one-shot lead after posting a 77 in Round 1 but stretched her advantage to six shots after her 2-under 70 Wednesday. Valentina Fontaine of Hilton Head, S.C., and Casey Grice of College Station, Texas, share second place. Thomas was 1-under through nine after recording three birdies and two bogeys. She matched that performance on the back nine thanks in part to an eagle on the par-5 15th, which negated her one bogey.”I felt more consistent and confident today,” Thomas said. “Hopefully I’ll carry my momentum into tomorrow and get a win.”

The round that generated the most buzz Wednesday? That belonged to Lauren Salazar. While her 11-over wasn’t noteworthy, The Santa Clara, Calif., resident recorded a hole-in-one on No. 3.”It sounds like the kids were really enjoying the course,” tournament director Katie French said. “The weather was much more cooperative today, and the players were thankful.””We’re thrilled to be back in Aspen.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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