It won’t be twice for Weiss
“It will suck not to go back,” Alex Weiss says, referring to the Inspirato Colorado Open, the tournament he won last year by one stroke. “The golf course was as good, if not better than, any course on the mini-tours. It’s the best nontour event that exists in the United States.”
Instead of defending his title, the 26-year-old Ohio native will compete that weekend in a Korn Ferry Tour event in Springfield, Mo. As of last month, he ranked just outside the top 75 on the KFT Points List and felt he needed to play in every event leading up to the penultimate KFT tournament near his hometown of Columbus and September’s season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
Despite the potential to hold another $100,000 winner’s check in Denver, Weiss says “it doesn’t make business sense” to play in it again. “This is my first year on the KFT, and I need to keep my card.”
Such are the decisions players make in an event that prides itself on being “where legends begin,” but not necessarily where legends return.
Weiss got his KFT card by winning two stages of KFT Qualifying School and finishing in the Top 50 in the Final. “The Colorado Open started the best three-month stretch of golf in my life,” he says. In addition to the Q-School stages, he forced playoffs in two other tournaments. “In five consecutive events, I only lost to two people.”
In Denver last year, he also almost found himself in a playoff. He’d started Sunday in the third to last group, two shots behind co-leaders—and Colorado natives—Jake Staiano and Derek Fribbs. A bogey-free 64 put Weiss at 19-under par. As the final group reached the 72nd hole, he was the leader in the clubhouse by a shot.
He says he was too excited to stay there—or even to warm up for a playoff. With Fribbs and Staiano both needing birdies to catch him, Weiss watched Staiano— with whom he’d played the day before— reach the green in two. After Fribbs had a birdie chip roll past the hole, Staiano left his eagle putt eight feet short, and then missed just low on the birdie attempt.
Despite his disappointment, Staiano was gracious in defeat. “He was worldclass about it,” Weiss says. “He and his dad couldn’t have been nicer.”
“I didn’t feel like I lost it as much as Alex earned it,” Staiano says. “He chased me down.”
Staiano, who won the Sinclair Rocky Mountain Open a few weeks later, has done a fair share of chasing since qualifying for the KFT. Making only two cuts in his first seven KFT events, the rookie has registered for this year’s Inspirato Colorado Open as a contingency if he’s not in the KFT field in Missouri.
Fribbs has no such conflict. Shortly after coming up short at Green Valley Ranch, he won last year’s Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open and, not having status on the KFT, confirmed his participation in the 2022 Inspirato Colorado Open.
“It’s too bad the Colorado Open isn’t the following week,” Staiano laments. “I’ve always played well there, and the Korn Ferry has a week off.”
The Inspirato Colorado Open begins July 21, 2022 at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.
Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.