Competitors will vie for biggest purse in historic event’s history.
On August 23-25, Colorado’s oldest open golf championship, the Rocky Mountain Open, enters its ninth decade on an upswing.
With Sinclair Oil Company as the event’s presenting sponsor for the next three years, the event will increase the winner’s share by 50 percent—from $10,000 to $15,000—and all pros making the cut are guaranteed to win more than their entry fee.
“We’re well on our way to re-establishing this as a top-tier golf event,” says Enstrom Candies President Doug Simons, who teamed with Monument Oil President Paul Brown and ANB Bank Regional President Vance Wagner to purchase the rights to the Rocky Mountain Open in 2014. “We’re going to continue raising the purse and do great things for the community.”
They’re well on their way. This year’s field features July’s CoBank Colorado Open champion Sam Saunders; former CGA Junior Player of the Year and current CU Assistant Coach Spencer Painton; recent CSU grad and 2017 Colorado Open Low Amateur Jake Staiano; 2014 Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Person of the Year Doug Rohrbaugh; 2017 CGA Amateur Champion Glenn Workman; and more than 80 other players.
Chief among the favorites are two-time defending champion Justin Keiley, a BYU alum from Maui who will attempt to become only the second three-peat winner in the RMO’s 81-year history, and the man he defeated in a playoff last year, Colorado Mesa University grad and PGA Assistant Professional Brandon Bingaman.
The august event also boasts legacies: Las Vegas PGA pro Monte Montgomery, a winner in 1992 and 2013, will compete with his son, Taylor. Another filial duo will be Pueblo’s Ray and Jimmy Makloski. PGA TOUR Champions player Kirk Triplett’s son, Sam, will also be in the field.
They’ll follow in the the spike-marks of winners such as Orville Moody, who won it six years after winning the U.S. Open, as well as Colorado Golf Hall of Fame members John Rogers, Gene Root, Ted Hart, Vic Kline, Bill Loeffler and multiple winners Pat Rea (four straight), Jack Sommers (four) and J.D. Taylor (three).
The 81st Rocky Mountain Open Presented by Sinclair Oil Company will feature a Thursday Four-Ball Pro-Am and amateur and professional divisions that tee off separately Friday through Sunday.
“This tournament has a great tradition that deserves to be built upon,” Brown says.
This level of competition—as well as the increased purse—can’t help but generate buzz among players. Simons has enlisted support from people who’ll put up competitors at their houses and from the marketing folks at the Grand Junction Visitors Bureau. What could be better than championship golf at the base of the Colorado National Monument during peach and wine season?
“We get more participation every year,” says board member Vance Wagner, who previously sat on the Colorado Open Golf Foundation board. He’s talking about players, fans, volunteers and media. “We work really hard to build awareness.”
Simons—whose wife’s grandfather, Chet Enstrom, served as the RMO’s first tournament chairman in 1939—takes justifiable pride in perpetuating the longevity of the event and communicating its prestige by creating a “winner’s wall” breezeway and permanent scoreboard at Tiara Rado. “It’s a labor of love,” he says. “Having Sinclair on board is huge. We’re just going to keep nurturing it and make sure it grows.”
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