Golf’s Longest Day: Colorado teacher survives final qualifier to make U.S. Open field

Colin Prater of Colorado Springs and PGA Tour pro Mark Hubbard qualify for U.S. Open 

By Jim Bebbington

The final qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open – dubbed ‘Golf’s Longest Day’ – saw two Colorado natives make the final cut and a rookie Tour pro narrowly miss out.

Colin Prater, a science teacher and boys and girls golf coach at Cheyenne Mountain High School, is a two-time Colorado Golf Association player of the year. He earned his place in the 2024 U.S. Open by finishing in second place in the qualifier played Monday at the Pronghorn Resort Nicklaus Course in Bend, Ore. Prater shot a 36-hole score of 141, 3-under par, to take one of the two qualifying slots up for grabs.

His morning round of 68 tied him for the lead. But he opened his second round with four bogeys over the first 10 holes and was falling out of contention when he rallied by birdying three of the final holes.

Colorado Springs’ Colin Prater qualified for the 2024 U.S. Open by finishing second in the June 3 final qualifier held at the Pronghorn Resort Nicklaus Course in Bend, Ore. Image shows Prater in 2023 during a competition at Cheyenne Mountain Country Club. Photo Courtesy of the Colorado PGA.

“It’s very much surreal,” Prater said. “Obviously you want to have the confidence before you tee off that if the stars align you can make the U.S. Open. But then the stars align! It’s going to be such a neat and cool experience. I’m super excited to get down there and see how my game stacks up against the best players in the world.”

Among the players trying to oust him was first-year pro Davis Bryant. Bryant also opened with a 68 and was tied for the lead when he began his second round. He was undone by going 3-over par in the first two holes of the afternoon round to finish at 1-under par overall, tied for fourth place.

The Bend, Ore., qualifier was one of  10 locations in the U.S. and Canada that held the final rounds of regional qualifiers.

Colorado native Mark Hubbard, a nine-year PGA Tour professional, annihilated the field at the Cherry Hill Club qualifier in Ontario, Canada. Hubbard shot 15-under for the 36-hole tournament, finishing three strokes up on the nearest competitor. Hubbard has played in 16 PGA Tour events already this season, finishing tied for fourth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and third for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He has not missed a cut yet this year.

Mark Hubbard

Other Coloradan results from Monday include:

  • Jack Castiglia of Lakewood and Cade Kilkenny of Centennial missed the cut playing in the Bend, Ore., qualifier.
  • Jason Preeo of Littleton missed the cut at the Woodmont Country Club, Maryland, qualifier
  • Jimmy Makloski of Pueblo and Hunter Swanson of Denver missed the cut at the Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California, qualifier
  • Jake Staiano of Englewood missed the cut at the Duke University Golf Club qualifier
  • Derek Fribbs of Aurora missed the cut at The Ohio State University Golf Club qualifier
  • Connor Jones of Denver and AJ Ott of Fort Collins missed the cut at the Springfield (Ohio) Country Club qualifier

The 2024 U.S. Open is June 13 to 16 at the Pinehurts (N.C.) Resort and Country Club, Course No. 2. Colorado’s Wyndham Clark is the defending champion, winning last year’s tournament at the Los Angeles Country Club.

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