The Denver Broncos’ kicker, Brandon McManus, is part of a star-studded field at this week’s CoBank Colorado Open, where 2020 Women’s champion Jennifer Kupcho will also tee it up.
Brandon McManus has remained calm in the eye of the hurricane, ignoring crowd noise, being frozen by opposing coaches and the all the pressure inherent in the final, breath-suppressing seconds of an NFL game to swing his right leg through the football and send the Denver Broncos on to victory.
All of which will mean nothing on Thursday. As players and coaches begin to convene at team headquarters at Dove Valley for what hopefully will be the start of the 2020 season McManus, the team’s clutch kicker, will be about 30 miles away facing a different kind of pressure—teeing it up in the CoBank Colorado Open at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.
“I’m a competitor and I want the chance to do something I’ve never really done before,” McManus said. “I’m looking forward to being out there with these guys who are professionals in what they do and maybe finding ways to improve my game and play golf in a more competitive way.”
McManus was given a sponsor’s exemption into the field for the July 23-26 event; tournament officials say those aren’t just passed out like candy; any amateur in the field must have a handicap of no higher than 2.4—McManus makes the cut with a 2.2.
At 6-foot-3, 201 pounds, McManus doesn’t look like the stereotypical diminutive kicker—and he hits the golf ball with the fury of a blitzing linebacker. These days, McManus says his drives are maxing out at about 350 yards—”And I’m getting about 280 with my 5-wood,” he adds. Of course, as the saying goes, “Drive for show and putt for dough”—which was definitely lacking for McManus in his last public appearance, when he finished 37th out of a field of 70 at the recent American Century Celebrity Championship at Lake Tahoe.
“I played very poorly; I bet I led the field in three-putts for the week,” he said. “I wasn’t great off the tee but I think I three-putted every green on the course.
“I was pretty frustrated with that; the problem was I went out there with two putters, so I think the one might have been jealous about the other one.”
If McManus and the flatstick are making beautiful music together this week, he says he thinks his has a chance of achieving some of his gals for the week—which include making the weekend cut.
“I was out there Monday and I think the course really sets up well for my game,” he said. “I was able to throw a couple of shots in pretty close…I just can’t get too far out of my game and start thinking about theirs; I just need to throw a couple of birdies on the scorecard and if not, just focus on two-putting for pars.”
As big a celebrity as McManus may be in these parts, it’s possible, had tournament organizers had their way, he might have been trumped by someone with a bit more global currency. After two years of trying without success, the stars seemed to align for the tournament to add Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry to the field. Curry, a two-time NBA most valuable player, is an avid golfer, having competed in multiple events on the Korn Ferry Tour. Curry also finished fourth last week at the American Century event.
After negotiating items like transportation and housing, officials were feeling optimistic that Curry would make his way to Colorado. However, the NBA, whose reboot later this month initially only included playoff teams, revised its plans and created workouts for every squad, including the Warriors. That meant no Open.
“It came down to him having to do what he’s being paid to do, versus him doing what he loves to do when he’s not doing what he gets paid to do,” said Kevin Laura, CEO of the Colorado Open Golf Foundation.
But Laura and the Open rebounded in a major way, adding the 2020 Women’s champion, Jennifer Kupcho.
After the loss of Curry, Laura said a number of meetings were held to try and figure out who to invite to the event; some of the names being floated included former British Open champion David Duval, Kevin Stadler, the son of the former Masters champion Craig Stadler and a former CoBank Colorado Open winner himself, and San Saunders, the grandson of golf legend Arnold Palmer.
Eventually, tournament director Brandon Roll raised Kupcho’s name and the deal was done.
“Honestly, she should have been the first name we thought about,” Laura said.
The Westminster native will be part of a family affair this week; her brother Steven, will also compete. In addition to the Kupcho, other familial pairings include Chris DiMarco, the runner up to Tiger Woods in the 2005 Masters, and his son Cristian, and Grant Waite, another PGA TOUR veteran, and his son Osten. There are also six sons of PGA TOUR winners entered, a group led by 2018 champion Dru Love, son of Davis Love III.
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