Aspen tops field at Huskies Invite in Vail
VAIL- The pants are staying.
And when you play as Aspen boys golf did Tuesday at the Vail Golf Club, you can wear pants that would make Stevie Wonder turn his head.
“It’s called Loud Mouth Golf, John Daly,” said Jesse Beetham, referring to the brand of pants the Skiers were wearing. “We just started wearing them as a team. But any time, we win as a team, we’ll do that.”
Beetham was styling in some zebra-striped pants, which are actually called Tarzan-A, on the Loud Mouth website, to the tune of low-medalist honors with a 2-over-par 73. Teammates Clayton Crawford and Ryan Smith carded a 74 and an 80, respectively, for a 227, comfortably ahead of Steamboat Springs (236), Grand Junction (237), host Battle Mountain (242) and Eagle Valley (245) at the Huskies Invitational.
That’s two team wins in a row after Rifle Creek on Monday in the Rodney Dangerfield look, so the Skiers will keep with it.
Beetham bounced back from two early bogeys with back-to-back birdies on the par-3 seventh and the par-5 eighth. On the drop-shot seventh, the sophomore pulled his 7-iron and went on to drain a 10-footer for a two.
“After I birdied, seven, the par-3, it gave me confidence on the next tee shot,” he said.
That showed because Beetham reached the green of the par-5 in two, lipping out an eagle putt. On the back, Beetham made one more visit to the bird sanctuary on the 11. In the traditional post-round flagellation, he rued bogeys on both 10 and 18, where he flew the green with his normally-trusty pitching wedge.
The brothers McDonald
Battle Mountain’s McDonald brothers led the way for the locals with Brady coming around in a 75 and Dillon with a 76. Nick Bontempo led Eagle Valley with a 78.
The Huskies were without their ace, Michael Wilhelm, who returns from Florida this weekend, and will be available for next week’s Delta-Montrose swing. Mike Jones filled in admirably for Wilhelm with a 91 as the team’s third scorer.
It’s not unreasonable to think that the Huskies will be in the mix come regionals with the McDonalds in the 70s. Brady got off the first hole relatively unscathed with a bogey – more on that later – and punched his way out of a tree on No. 2 for a well-played birdie.
Brady birdied eight with a deft up-and down, and was back down to even par with a tweeter on 10. A 320-yard drive to start the back nine usually helps in that regard. But that was where younger McDonald’s driving game left him. Errant tee shots led to bogeys on four of his final eight holes.
“Coming down the stretch, I’ve got to be more consistent,” Brady said. “I started thinking about it. I started to spray my driver. I couldn’t keep it in the fairway.”
That said, Brady avoided the big-number hole. His brother, Dillon, did not. He started his day with an ugly triple on the opening par-4. Employing a new grip, which was a tad strong, Dillon hooked his opening tee shot off course.
Elder McDonald recovered enough to get to the green, but was clearly still steaming with a three-putt.
“When I was in a (Colorado Junior Golf Association) event, I got an 8 on that hole, so I can sympathize,” Brady said of his brother.
Nevertheless, Dillon righted the ship well with three birds in the next six holes, including 2s on the front’s par-3s with soft 9-irons.
“I told myself that if I kept playing like that, I had no chance of winning the tournament,” Dillon said. “I had to start playing like I knew how.”
McDonald might have still made a charge at Beetham had it not been for some poor decision making on holes Nos. 8-10, a stretch on which he played four-over par.
Eagle Valley’s Bontempo, as his name would indicate, was very smooth on the front with five-straight pars to open. His only miscues were bogeys on No. 6, the toughest hole on the course, and on the ninth, another long par-4.
Bontempo found Gore Creek on No. 11, but stayed focused avoiding the big number on his way to a 78.
“Nick’s grown up a lot,” Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee said. “He’s playing smarter, He’s calmed down a lot. When you’re a freshman, you want to kill it. He’s playing better golf. He’s playing the game instead of attacking it. It’s a more consistent game.”
Bontempo just couldn’t get the nuances of his short game untracked.
“I just couldn’t make the birdie putts at all,” he said. “I started losing my drives to the right. That when I started with the bogeys. I couldn’t get it on the fairway. The course played nice. It was soft. You had easy shots at the greens. It’s just you had to be below the pin, or your putts wouldn’t go.”
Bontempo steered clear of three-putts. On the frustrating side of the ledger, he saw some of his chips check when he needed them to run and vice-versa.
Austin Fahrenholtz struggled a bit with his putting, carding an 81. Fahrenholtz has a history of a love-hate relationship with his Scotty Cameron. He battled his flat blade all season last fall, only to drop a 45-foot bomb, a stroke which earned him a trip to state, up at regionals in Steamboat.
Tanner Coulter posted an 86 to round out the Devils’ scoring. However, file away the names of Stuart Rasmussen and Cooper Senn. Both played for Eagle Valley’s red team, which is considered junior varsity on the day of a tournament. Both were in the low 80s Tuesday, making their case to move up to varsity.
The Vail Mountain School finished 11th with 273 strokes. Harrison Alonzo fired an 85 for the Gore Rangers, while Christian Bohnran put up an 87. Vail Christian, in its first year of golf, did not have a full team Tuesday, but Robby Bowles broke 90 with an 89.
Eagle Valley plays the role of host on Thursday at Gypsum Creek with a 9 a.m. shotgun start.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.