Going Low

Coloradans Geoff Keffer and Zahkai Brown, and Mines alum George Markham Monday qualify for The Ascendant at TPC Colorado; 2021 champ Tag Ridings withdraws from field

By Gary Baines – 6/27/2022

Three golfers with strong Colorado connections earned spots in the 156-man field for this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event at TPC Colorado in Berthoud through Monday qualifying at Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor.

The $750,000 Ascendant presented by Blue will run Thursday through Sunday at TPC Colorado.

Geoff Keffer of Lakewood, a seven-time Colorado PGA overall Player of the Year, landed medalist honors with a 9-under-par 62 and will be joined at TPC Colorado by Zahkai Brown of Golden (64) and former Colorado School of Mines golfer George Markham of Phoenix (65).

Geoff Keffer is a 7-time Colorado PGA overall Player of the Year.

Keffer, a 43-year-old PGA assistant pro at Lakewood Country Club, made 10 birdies and a bogey at Highland Meadows, where four players shot 62 in last year’s KFT qualifier. Keffer has won two Colorado PGA Professional Championships — in 2016 and ’20. It will be his first KFT start ever.

Meanwhile, it will be Brown’s third appearance in the four times a Korn Ferry Tour event has been held at TPC Colorado. The former Inspirato Colorado Open champion — and CGA Player of the Year — finished 59th in 2019 and missed the cut in 2020. Last year, he also shot 64 in a Monday qualifier for TPC Colorado, but came up short. 

On Monday, the former Colorado State University golfer made two eagles and three birdies in a bogey-free round. Overall, it will be his 13th career start on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he’s made two cuts.

Former CSU golfer Zahkai Brown has made two previous appearances at the TPC Colorado Korn Ferry Tour stop.

Like Brown, Markham went bogey-free on Monday, in his case recording six birdies. Markham played for Mines from 2015-19 and was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Men’s Golfer of the Year as a senior. 

Joining Keffer, Brown and Markham in Monday qualifying for The Ascendant were Travis Gonda of Tucson (two eagles en route to 65), Arizona State golfer Preston Summerhays (65), Logan McCracken of Tulsa (bogey-free 65), Zachary Caldwell of Alpharetta, Ga. (bogey-free 65) and Caleb Ramirez of Blythe, Calif. (66).

Keffer, Brown and Markham will join numerous other players with significant Colorado ties in this week’s field at TPC Colorado. Among those previously announced were Boulder County native George Cunningham, Dan Erickson (whose family moved to Loveland in 2018), Tyler McCumber of Lyons, Taylor Montgomery (whose father Monte grew up in Grand Junction), former University of Colorado golfer Jeremy Paul, Sam Saunders of Fort Collins, Jake Staiano of Englewood and CSU, former Air Force Academy golfers Tom Whitney and Kyle Westmoreland, and Highlands Ranch native Derek Oland.

Meanwhile, 2021 Ascendant champion Tag Ridings announced Monday on Twitter that he won’t return to defend his title. 

“Unfortunately I will not be coming back to defend @AscendantGolf @KornFerryTour. I’ve been struggling returning from Covid and related heat exhaustion. I need to get back to healthy. Hopefully soon. I’ll miss those @TPCColorado views, food!, and the competition!!”

For all the scores from Monday qualifying at Highland Meadows, CLICK HERE.

For the entire field for The Ascendant, as it currently stands, CLICK HERE.

For more information about this week’s Ascendant at TPC Colorado, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: ColoradoGolfJournal@mac.com)