Texans rule at junior all-star tourney | AspenTimes.com

Texans rule at junior all-star tourney

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN It was all but a lock. The advantage for Chessy Thomas, 15, of Spokane, Wash., ballooned from six to eight after birdies on No. 1 and No. 2 in Thursday’s final round of the junior all-star tournament at the Aspen Golf Course. Casey Grice of College Station, Texas, admitted she was nervous, but she wasn’t about to surrender. The 15-year-old continued to trim the deficit, cutting Thomas’ lead in half after nine holes. She completed the improbable turnaround with strong play on the back nine and claimed a two-shot win.

She wasn’t the only Texan to taste success in Aspen. Kramer Hickock, a 15-year-old from Plano, rebounded from a 4-over-par round of 75 on Day 1 with a 70 on Wednesday and a 72 Thursday. He caught and passed first- and second-round leader Santiago Gavino of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, early Thursday and cruised to a five-shot win. Gavino tied for second with Hunter Krauss of Germantown, Tenn. Bobby Lange of Sherman Oaks, Calif., finished fourth, and Denver’s Jonathan Park was fifth.”I never really got in trouble, and my putting was much better today,” Grice said in an American Junior Golf Association news release. “I hit some iron shots close to make birdies and focused on fairways and greens.”

Thomas threatened to run away after birdies on the two opening holes, but she gave back two shots after a double bogey at the par-4 fourth. Grice’s birdie on the par-5 seventh cut the deficit to four.Thomas bogeyed the 11th and 12th – both par-4s – while Grice recorded a par and a birdie. Grice pulled even after Thomas recorded a six on the par-3 14th. Grice took the lead for good at the par-5 15th after Thomas bogeyed. Her three-day total of 227 was two shots better than Thomas and seven ahead of Valentina Fontaine of Hilton Head, S.C.

It took Hickock just one hole to vault into the lead – He parred the first, while Gavino recorded a double bogey. Hickock was even after his 35 on the front nine; Gavino struggled to a 41. The two posted identical 37s on the back nine, but the damage was done.”I just played my own game,” said Hickock, who was tied for ninth after the opening round. “Winning this tournament inspires me to keep playing and keep winning tournaments.”Aspen’s A.J. Morris and Carbondale’s Micah Evonitz finished 49th and 66th, respectively. Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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