As the Colorado Golf Association wraps up its 101st year of serving and promoting golf in the state, we want to thank the more than 1,300 players who entered our championships and qualifiers in 2016. It produced an exceptional follow-up to our Centennial anniversary, and it gives us great pleasure to recognize three individuals as our State Amateur Players of the Year.
Les Fowler Player of the Year Award
Kyler Dunkle (The Club at Pradera)
Dunkle, a former 5A state high school champion, is one of the youngest recipients of the CGA Les Fowler Player of the Year Award. The 20-year-old took his game to another level in 2016. The highlight of his season was not only qualifying for the U.S. Amateur for the second consecutive year—as medalist by four shots at Fort Collins Country Club—but advancing to the round of 16 at a national championship which features a starting field of 312.
A year after rounds of 86-85 at the event left him in 311th place in the stroke-play portion of the tournament, Dunkle finished 41st in stroke play in August at Oakland Hills in Michigan. He then won two matches before falling in the round of 16 of arguably the world’s top amateur championship. It marks the second straight year a Coloradan has made it to the Sweet 16 in the U.S. Am, after the University of Colorado’s David Oraee did likewise in 2015.
In CGA championships this year, Dunkle made it to the quarterfinals of the CGA Match Play and finished 11th in the CGA Amateur. He won the CGA Western Chapter title and placed second with his dad, Jason, in their title defense at the CGA Parent/Child. After competing as a redshirt freshman at Colorado State last season, Dunkle transferred to the University of Utah.
Mid-Amateur Player of the Year Award
Chris Thayer (Bear Creek Golf Club)
The 36-year-old former Northwestern University player became the second golfer to be honored in back-to-back years as the CGA’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year, joining Keith Humerickhouse (2012 and ’13).
Also for the second straight year, Thayer finished runner-up to Jon Lindstrom in the CGA Mid-Amateur, an event in which Thayer prevailed in 2014. And in open-age-division CGA championships, Thayer placed 11th in the CGA Amateur and made it to the round of 32 of the CGA Match Play.
At his first U.S. Mid-Amateur, Thayer finished 45th in the stroke-play portion of the event, earning a spot in match play, where he lost in the round of 64. Thayer also advanced to the second stage of the two-stage U.S. Open qualifying process.
Senior Player of the Year Award
Robin Bradbury (Heritage Golf Club at Westmoor)
Bradbury went the first six decades of his life without qualifying for a USGA championship, but broke the ice at the age of 60 when he shared medalist honors as Fox Hollow Golf Course hosted a qualifier for the U.S. Senior Amateur. He then took it a step beyond that as he finished 48th in the stroke-play portion of the national tournament and landed a spot in match play, where he exited in the round of 64.
The Superior resident also secured low senior amateur honors at the Rocky Mountain Open, finished 16th in the CGA Senior Amateur and advanced to the round of 16 at the CGA Senior Match Play. He placed eighth in the CGA Super-Senior Stroke Play.
Aaron Kellough is director of communications for the Colorado Golf Association. For a full list of past players of the year and to learn more about the tournament program, visit coloradogolf.org. The 2017 tournament schedule will be available soon.
This article appears in the Winter 2016 issue of Colorado AvidGolfer. Subscribe today!
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