A year-by-year look at the decade that brought national championships to Colorado and produced a national champion from Westminster.
By Jon Rizzi
The 71st Senior PGA Championship comes to Colorado Golf Club. The clubhouse may still have been under construction, but the three-year-old, 7,464 yard Coore-Crenshaw masterpiece in Parker proved a sturdy challenge. Tom Lehman, the only player in the field to turn in four sub-par rounds, carded a 7-under-par 281 to force a three-way playoff with Fred Couples and David Frost. Lehman won on the first playoff hole. “I loved the course from the moment I laid my eyes on it,” Lehman said after hoisting the enormous Alfred S. Bourne Trophy for the first time.
The Broadmoor hosts the U.S. Women’s Open. Three years after staging the U.S. Senior Open, The Broadmoor welcomed another USGA major championship to Colorado Springs in 2011. Despite delays caused by numerous afternoon thunderstorms, the event attracted record crowds and crowned a first-time champion, as So Yeon Ryu defeated fellow South Korean Hee Kyung Seo in a three-hole playoff on Monday morning.
Cherry Hills and CommonGround welcome the U.S. Amateur. The USGA’s oldest championship returned to Cherry Hills Country Club, where Phil Mickelson won it in 1990. From a field that included future professional stars Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa and Thomas Pieters, the winner was Steven Fox of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, who rallied from being 2 down with two holes remaining to force a playoff with the University of California’s Michael Weaver on the 37th hole. Weaver, who had defeated Thomas in the semi-finals, lipped out a 5-foot par putt on 18 that would have given him the win.
Europe defeats the U.S at the Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club. In the first Solheim Cup contested west ofthe Mississippi, the Liselotte Neumann-coached European team trounced Meg Mallon’s U.S. squad, 18-10. The Europeans were all about making history. Not only did this mark the largest margin of victory for either team since the competition began in 1990, but it also was the first time the Europeans had won on U.S. soil. In addition, fans witnessed the first ace ever in Solheim competition on Day Two when Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist holed her tee shot on the par-3 17th. Another Swede, Caroline Hedwall, became the first player on either team, to win five matches in a single Solheim Cup.
BMW Championship arrives at Cherry Hills. For the first time since 2006, the PGA TOUR returned to Colorado, as the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup rankings competed in the championship benefiting the Evans Scholarship Foundation. Billy Horschel’s 14-under 266 edged Bubba Watson by two and Morgan Hoffman—who carded a 62 on Saturday and a 63 on Sunday—by four. Other memorable moments from the event included Rory McIlroy’s putting adventures on the par-3 12th, which resulted in a third-round triple-bogey and final-round double-bogey; Sergio Garcia’s aquatic triple-bogey on the 71st hole; and Phil Mickelson quitting after going six-over par in his first two rounds. Horschel would go on to win the FedEx Cup Championship at the following week’s Tour Championship. The PGA TOUR named the 2014 BMW Championship the Tournament of the Year.
Colorado Golf Association stages Century of Golf Gala featuring Jack Nicklaus. In honor of the Colorado Golf Association’s 100th Anniversary, the Colorado Golf Foundation welcomed Jack Nicklaus to The Broadmoor, site of his first USGA victory, the 1959 U.S. Amateur Championship. The event also paid special tribute to six Colorado individuals for their transcendent achievements and contributions to the game: Former USGA President Will Nicholson, Jr. (Man of the Century); World Golf Hall of Fame member Judy Bell (Woman of the Century); three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin (Male Player of the Century); two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur winner Barbara McIntire (Female Player of the Century); five-time PGA Colorado Section president and Player of the Year Charles “Vic” Kline (Golf Professional of the Century); and former Golf Course Superintendents Association of America president Dennis Lyon (Superintendent of the Century).
Jennifer Kupcho sweeps CWGA Match Play and Stroke Play. Marking its centennial, the Colorado Women’s Golf Association would merge with the Colorado Golf Association a year later. However, Kupcho gave the ladies’ organization a milestone year to remember. The Wake Forest University sophomore from Westminster not only won the 2016 Match Play and Stroke Play titles, but she did so in dominating fashion. In the 36-hole Match Play finale at Aurora Hills, she defeated Jaylee Tait 12 and 10; and in the Stroke Play she finished 19 shots ahead of runner-up Gillian Vance. The second round of that latter performance saw Kupcho set the women’s course record at historic Denver Country Club. Her 7-under-par 65 shattered the previous mark of 68 established in 1946 by world-renowned athlete Babe Zaharias.
Jonathan Kaye Wins second Colorado Open 21 years after winning his first. In 1996, Jonathan Kaye earned $27,000 for winning the Colorado Open, chipping in for a birdie on the final hole at Inverness Golf Club for his professional win. More than two decades and two PGA TOUR victories later, the Boulder resident blistered the par-72 course at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, going 23-under to win the CoBank Colorado Open by one shot over Jacob Lestishen. A year earlier, the event raised its purse to $250,000, so the 47-year-old Kaye took home a cool $100,000 for his efforts.
2018 U.S. Senior Open Spotlights The Broadmoor. In a year that saw Jennifer Kupcho win the NCAA Championship and play on winning Curtis Cup, Palmer Cup and Women’s World Amateur Team Championship squads, The Broadmoor celebrated its 100th anniversary in grand fashion by staging the 2018 U.S. Senior Open. A long putt by David Toms on the 70th hole put him in the lead, and another bomb on the 71st kept him there, one shot ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tim Petrovic and Jerry Kelly—all of whom were tied just a few holes earlier.
Jennifer Kupcho Wins at Augusta National. A year after becoming the first Colorado woman to win the NCAA Individual Championship, Jennifer Kupcho exploded onto the national stage by winning the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The Wake Forest senior, who months earlier had qualified for the LPGA Tour, decided to delay turning professional in order to graduate, thus retaining eligibility for the event. Kupcho made the decision pay off big time at Augusta, battling through a blinding migraine to play the final six holes in 5 under par, going 10-under for the tournament and winning by four shots over Maria Fassi. Appearances by the two, who demonstrated remarkable sportsmanship throughout the competition, followed on The Today Show and Tonight with Jimmy Fallon.
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