Craig Loper and his wife planned to vacation this fall in Mexico anyway. Now the trip will cost almost nothing. Playing in the second flight of the Ferguson Pontiac GMC Springer Championship, Loper made a hole-in-one on the 177-yard hole No. 14 Saturday at Valley Hi. He won a six-day trip to Acapulco. Although that doesn’t include airfare, Loper could win around $1,000-$1,500 worth of skins money if no other competitor aces a hole during the final round today. Loper shot a 78. His two-round total of 157 puts him in a tie for fourth place. Ray Phelps leads the flight with a 152. But bragging rights belong to Loper, a 55-year-old retired principal. “I called my wife and told her about the hole-in-one,” Loper said. “She said, ‘Did you win a car?’ I said, ‘No.’ She just said, ‘Oh.’” Loper used a 7-iron. His shot began to slice slightly at the cup. “It took one bounce and rolled in like a putt,” Loper said. “It sort of disappeared. I couldn’t tell exactly how close it was.” Loper was the principal at Harrison High School from 1999 to 2003 before filling that role at Sand Creek for one year. He retired in June 2004 and estimated he shot close to 300 rounds of golf the following seven months. Before his hole-in-one, Loper four-putted on No. 13 to settle for bogey. “I just had to compose myself,” Loper said. “I just wanted to put my next tee-off on the green.” He said he’s had four aces in his life. They were far between. And Loper remembers them all — a 212-yarder as an 18-year-old at Montrose, a 232-yarder 20 years later at Vail, and a 153-yarder at the Olde Course at Loveland when he was 48. Seven years later at the Springer, he sunk the one that paid off. “I was a very erratic player as a principal,” Loper said. “The role caused a lot of stress.” In the championship flight, Todd Napikoski, a graduate of Coronado and the 2003 Gazette Boys’ Golf Athlete of the Year, leads with a 141. David Cosel, a 2004 Lewis-Palmer graduate, is second with a 143. David Snavely, who sunk back-to-back eagles Friday, leads the first flight with a 146. Peter Wentis is one stroke behind. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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