Eaton and Jones go where no Colorado golfer has gone before.
By Jon Rizzi
Within a span of 10 days, two golfers—a man and a woman separated by more than 40 years and thousands of rounds of golf—made Colorado golf history.
By winning Sunday’s CGA Amateur at Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch Golf Club with a four-day total of 24 under par, Colorado State University senior Connor Jones broke Hale Irwin’s tournament record of 21 under par, which the World Golf Hall of Famer had accomplished in 1963, when the event was known as the CGA Stroke Play.
A week and a half earlier, at Boulder’s Flatirons Golf Course, Kim Eaton set the all-time record for victories in CWGA/CGA Women’s events by defeating Marilyn Hardy of Gunnison, 4 and 3, in the finals of the CGA Women’s Senior Stroke Play. The win, her 26th, moved Eaton one ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Carol Sorenson Flenniken, with whom the 62-year-old Greeley native had been tied for the last four years.
Jones’ victory is the latest in a spectacular run of performances by the Westminster resident. In May, he won the Mountain West individual title. The next month, he captured the CGA Match Play at The Broadmoor; lost on the second playoff hole at the prestigious Trans-Miss Amateur at Denver Country Club; and at last weekend’s Inspirato Colorado Open at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, he tied for third, with 19-under-par performance that set a new amateur record for the event, eclipsing Jake Staiano’s 15-under-par in 2017.
In the Amateur, he fired rounds of 68, 64, 64 and 68. He overcame a stiff challenge from his CSU Ram teammate, Davis Bryant, who shot a 60 in the opening round and finished at 21-under 267. With the win, Jones joined Gary Longfellow (1974) and Colin Prater (2020) as the only players ever to sweep both CGA majors and finish low-am in the Colorado Open in the same year. (Longfellow also was the overall winner of the ’74 Open—then contested at Hiwan Golf Club—with a score of 2-under.)
On Sunday, Prater finished third at 20-under. To show how impressive Jones’ performance was, when Prater won in 2020, his 13-under 267 total was six strokes clear of Bryant, who’d won it the previous year with a score of 8-under par.
Kim’s Wait Ends
In 2018, when Kim Eaton partnered with fellow Colorado Hall of Fame member Janet Moore to win Eaton’s record-tying 25th Colorado women’s tournament—the CGA women’s four-ball stroke play event known as the Brassie—it appeared as though the dominant player from Greeley would break the tie in a matter of weeks at the Senior Stroke Play at Greeley Country Club.
But it didn’t happen there—or anywhere else in Colorado—for the next four years. Injuries and competition from newly eligible senior Kris Franklin and 40-time USGA championship competitor Marilyn Hardy put the party on hold. Franklin even partnered with Eaton in Mashie and Brassie tournaments, without winning. Compounding the frustration, in each of her last five CGA women’s senior majors, Eaton finished second. Last year, she fell to two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up Sue Wooster 1-up in the Senior Match Play finale, and by six to Franklin in the Senior Stroke Play.
But in Boulder, that changed. Playing out of the same four-person championship pod, Eaton and Hardy squared off in the pod finale, with Eaton winning 3 and 2. Buoyed and confident, the following day Eaton took control on the third hole of the championship match and never relinquished the lead, going 4-up with a birdie on the par-4 12th.
She cruised to a victory, and, with it, to a line all her own atop the all-time Colorado leaderboard.
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