Leffew, Ko still lead Aspen Junior Golf Classic
ASPEN – Jake Leffew and Naomi Ko were far from sharp in Wednesday’s second round of the Aspen Junior Golf Classic. Still, the two teenagers find themselves in a familiar – and enviable – position.
First-round leaders Leffew, of Vero Beach, Fla., and Ko, of Victoria, British Columbia, combined to shoot 9-over-par on a sun-drenched Wednesday at the Aspen Golf Club. A talented field could not take advantage, however, and knock them off the top of the leaderboard.
Leffew followed up his first-round 69 with a 3-over 74 – good for a one-shot lead over Michael Hodson of Amarillo, Tex., heading into today’s final round. Castle Rock’s Joshua Seiple (76-69) is two shots back, while Max Alcorn of Poway, Calif., and 2011 Classic champion Cole Nygren of Longmont are just three off the pace.
Ko, who blitzed the Aspen course Tuesday en route to a 69 that gave her a six-shot cushion, carded a 77 on Wednesday. She now leads Benicia, Calif.’s Kathleen Scavo (75-75) by four strokes. Brittany Fan (78-73) of Pearl City, Hawaii, is five shots back.
Leffew, who birdied three of his first six holes Tuesday, bogeyed five holes on the front nine Wednesday and made the turn at 3-over.
He regrouped, birdying three of his next four holes.
“I realized that it was all a matter of staying calm,” Leffew said. “I realized that there’s no point in trying to steer the ball places.”
Mistakes cost Leffew down the stretch, however: He bogeyed 15, 17 and 18 to close out a trying day.
One day after recording four birdies, Ko struggled to produce low numbers. Her lone birdie Wednesday came at the par-5 15th. The momentum didn’t last: She bogeyed two of her final three holes.
Still, Ko has a sizable lead heading into the final round. She won’t be banking on that, however.
“I’m going to play like I’m losing,” Ko said. “I don’t want to have the ‘I want to win’ feeling during the round. I need to keep calm and play one shot at a time.”
Barring the unexpected, local golfers will not be vying for a title today. Woody Creek’s Jesse Beetham has been a model of consistency, but the Aspen High student finds himself in a tie for 17th after rounds of 76 and 75. Snowmass Village’s Ryan Smith (78-74) is tied for 22nd.
Par-71, 7,046 yards
17t. Jesse Beetham, 76-75, 151
22t. Ryan Smith, 78-74, 152
37t. Dylan Rakowski, 77-79, 156
47t. Clayton Crawford, 78-80, 158
71. August So, 84-90, 174
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Winter sports practices were officially allowed to begin last week, Jan. 18, after the Colorado High School Activities Association was given a variance from the state’s health officials. Games were allowed to be played starting this week.