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Back in 2019, Aiden Krafft won the state golf title as a freshman at Cibola High School.  A pandemic prevented him from defending his title this past spring.  But the 16-year old junior is picking up right where he left off. Earlier this year, Krafft posted a round of 60 on the final day of the Albuquerque City Championship.

“It’s weird, you just feel so good and everything is going your way,” Krafft recalls about the career-best round. “It feels so easy.”

Another New Mexico golfer who knows a thing or two about having it dialed in on the course is Notah Begay, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. About a year ago, Begay decided to start a national junior golf tournament, with the championship to be broadcast on the Golf Channel.

“It felt like when I was a junior golfer that some of the elite level junior tournaments were a little bit too exclusive in terms of they require a high caliber of player to be admitted into the field and I didn’t feel like that was in alignment with what I wanted to have in terms of growing the game initiative,” said Begay.

Krafft finished first at one of Notah Begay’s regional qualifiers with a two-round total of 7-under par and he will play in Begay’s first ever national championship event.

“It’s exciting for me to be able to host somebody from Albuquerque that went to school in a place I’m extremely familiar with and he’s coming to our National Championship in November,” said Begay.

The two golfers recently had the opportunity to play together in Albuquerque, an experience Krafft was excited about.

“The opportunity to play with him is so cool,” said Krafft.  “You don’t get these opportunities that often.  It’s really nice to get to play with him and get to meet him, get to know him a little bit more.  So, I’m really excited for that.”

“Aiden’s great,” said Begay.  “We’ve played a handful of holes.  I wanted to get a chance to meet him, get to know him, get to talk about him on television and promote the state and promote him.”

Krafft describes himself as a ‘go-for-it’ type of golfer who’s willing to take a lot of risks.

“I’m not that conservative,” said Krafft.  “I go after a lot of things.  Sometimes I get myself in trouble, but I’m pretty good getting out of it.”

Begay remembers when he was a junior golfer in Albuquerque and there is one moment that stands out.

“One of the neatest things that ever happened to me is I went to a clinic that was hosted by Chi Chi Rodriguez,” Begay remembers.  “It was at Los Altos and he asked me to come up and hit a few balls.  The coolest thing about it is I got to visit with him after the clinic was over.  I was walking away and he said, ‘Hey kid, come back here.’  And he gave me $50 bucks. I’m not giving Aiden any money today,” Begay joked.

So, no 50-bucks for Aiden, but he did pick up a few tips.

“He’s giving me advice that I should putt lefty,” said Krafft.  “I like hitting lefty, it’s fun.  So, I might think about doing that a little bit.”

No matter how he finishes at the Notah Begay Junior Golf National Championship, Kraftt is just thankful he has the chance to play and compete.  Three other New Mexicans also qualified for Begay’s tournament by winning their age divisions at another regional qualifier.  Skyler Woods and Zachary Blue Eyes from Kirtland Central, along with Shandiin Harper from Piedra Vista High School, will play in the event on November 15-17 at Koasati Pines at Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana.

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