Colorado National’s GM/Director of Golf captures the 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship
By Jon Rizzi
(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Schalk as the first Coloradan to win the Senior PGA Professional Championship. In 2007, Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Bill Loeffler captured the title at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. We regret the error.)
Matt Schalk couldn’t help but smile throughout his final round at this weekend’s 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Twin Warriors Golf Club at Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico.
Facing what he called “definitely the most difficult conditions I’ve ever played in,” the PGA Director of Golf at Colorado National Golf Club braved fierce winds and rain to card a three-over-par 75 to finish at 10-under-par 278.
“You kind of had to laugh a little bit at yourself,” he said, describing how he had to calculate the wind on putts. “I had my ball blowing around on a green when I was walking up to it. You never could quite get comfortable out there, but everybody had it. I went into it trying to not make doubles. Pars were like birdies. I just tried to make bogeys and understand that it wasn’t the end of the world if you made one, because you knew everyone was going to be making them, too.”
And that they did. After benign conditions during the first three days at the pueblo’s Twin Warriors and Santa Ana golf clubs produced scores in the 60s, Sunday found only one player, Kelly Mitchum, breaking par. The pro from Southern Pines in North Carolina carded a 2-under 70.
Schalk’s approach paid off. Although he bogeyed five holes, he offset two with birdies on nos. 7 and 12 and parred the rest. Those two shots separated him from runner-up Steve Schneiter of Utah—with whom Schalk was locked in a tie for second place after three rounds—and three shots ahead of the third-round leader Alan Sorensen, whose 7-over 79 left him in a four-way tie for third.
Schalk’s victory marks the first by a Colorado player since Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Bill Loeffler captured the title at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 2007.
For his efforts this year, Schalk received the Leo Fraser Trophy, earned $26,000 and will lead a contingent of 35 Senior PGA Club Professionals into the 2023 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, May 25-28, at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco in Frisco, Texas. It will be the first major championship contested at the new home of the PGA of America.
Schalk, an Erie resident who also won the 2022 Colorado Senior PGA Professional Championship in August, will be one of four other Coloradans competing at Frisco. The others are Doug Rohrbaugh of Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch Golf Club (T-17 at 1 over); two-time defending PGA Colorado Section Champion Micah Rudosky of Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez (T-26, 3 over); and Dave Arbuckle (T-35, 5 over) of Colorado Springs.
“I’m ecstatic,” Schalk told PGA.com. “Coming into the week, getting into the Senior PGA Championship in Frisco was my goal. I didn’t think about winning the tournament until I got to the 17 tee and was able to see the scoreboard. I knew I had some shots to play with coming in. Just needed to be smart. Now I’m so excited to be the Senior PGA Professional champion and everything that comes with it.”
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