Coloradans In the Mix

Colorado PGA pro Micah Rudosky and local amateur Steve Ivan share lead at Inspirato Colorado Senior Open; Doug Wherry holes out twice from 150+ yards; John Elway struggles in round 1

*****For the scores from the Inspirato Colorado Senior Open, CLICK HERE.*****

By Gary Baines – 8/24/2022

A Colorado PGA professional hasn’t won the Inspirato Colorado Senior Open since 2013. An amateur hasn’t claimed the overall trophy since 1999.

But after Wednesday’s opening round of the CSO at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, a Colorado amateur and a local pro share the lead, and two other Colorado PGA members are just a stroke behind.

Micah Rudosky, the head professional at Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, and amateur Steve Ivan from Patty Jewett Golf Course in Colorado Springs matched the 5-under-par 67s shot by onetime PGA Tour winner Guy Boros and Craig Van Horn of Shawnee, Okla. All four are tied for the lead with two rounds remaining in the $90,000 tournament.

The 60-year-old Ivan, a two-time CGA Senior Player of the Year, attributed his good play in part to being paired with two veteran PGA Tour/PGA Tour Champion players, Gary Hallberg and Willie Wood, the 1984 Colorado Open champion.

“I’ve been looking forward to this pairing since I got it,” Ivan said. (Former CGA Senior Player of the Year) Keith Atkins said, ‘That’s a TV pairing.’ 

“I had so much fun with Gary last year that they paired me again with him this year. And Willie used to throttle us in college (while he was at Oklahoma State and Ivan was at the University of Colorado). He was always in the first group and I was fifth man. Those guys (at OSU) were so good, it was unfathomable. They just won with their eyes closed they were so good.”

Micah Rudosky from Cortez was one of four players who shot 67 on Wednesday.

Ivan made five birdies in a bogey-free round. It was quite a turnaround from the way he played two days earlier in a practice round.

“I came out Monday and played here. I was hooking everything — like 50-60 yards,” he said. “It was horrible. But I had an epiphany yesterday on the range and it worked. It was unreal how it clicked. All I did was lower my hands at address. 

“(Today) I hit my driver really well to set up everything and I putted well. I missed a couple of greens and I got up and down from stupid places nobody should get up and down (from).”

As for Rudosky, he won the both the overall and senior Section championships for the Colorado PGA last year, and finished second in the 2007 Colorado Open at GVR. On Wednesday, he carded six birdies and a bogey.

“Overall I’m, happy where I am,” said Rudosky, who turns 52 on Sept. 1. “It’s been about a week since I had played. But I’ve played this course so many times (an estimated 50), I don’t need practice rounds anymore. Maybe that’s a good thing as a senior, right?”

Meanwhile, Van Horn chalked up seven birdies and two bogeys in round 1, and Boros six birdies and a bogey. Boros, son of former PGA Tour standout Julius Boros, counts the 1996 Greater Vancouver Open title among the 255 PGA Tour events in which he’s competed.

Matt Schalk of Boulder continued his strong play this year, posting a 68.

Sitting a stroke out of the lead are four players, including Colorado PGA members Doug Wherry of Lone Tree and Matt Schalk of Boulder. They shot 68, but in much different ways — Wherry spectacularly and Schalk workmanlike.

First, the spectacular. Wherry holed out twice for eagle from over 150 yards on Wednesday, with one being a hole-in-one, the fourth of his career, all coming in competition. He aced the 167-yard eighth hole with an 8-iron, the ball hitting the flag on the fly and dropping straight into the hole. “It was crazy,” he said.

But a couple of hours later, it got crazier. With a 155-yard approach shot with a 9-iron over the trees on the par-4 16th, Wherry dunked another. “It hit once and then disappeared,” he said. “It’s like, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Wherry, owner of two top-10s at the Colorado Senior Open, said never before in his life has he had two long hole-outs in a round.

“It’s crazy how it can be out here,” he said. “Stuff happens and you just go, ‘OK.’ I could not believe when (the second one of the day) went in. Sometimes you just skank it around, but these were both struck really well. But I’ve got to keep playing (well) tomorrow.”

Doug Wherry had an eventful round on Wednesday, with a hole-in-one and another long hole-out for eagle.

Other than the two hole-out eagles, Wherry played even-par golf, with three birdies and three bogeys.

As for Schalk, he’s continuing his impressive play, earlier this month having won the Colorado Senior PGA Professional Championship. 

“This is kind of the first year I’ve really started playing again in about 10 years with my daughter (prominent local golfer Hailey Schalk) and everything. So I’ve been practicing and playing a lot. I feel like I’m hitting the ball well and I’m sharper mentally. I’m older now and don’t get as stressed out. That’s been helpful.

“My goal coming in was to get to that 15-16 under mark (for three days). That would be a good position. I’m playing well enough (to contend for the title). If my putter stays hot — or gets even hotter — then I certainly can get there. Realistically, I think I can compete with anyone out here for sure. Honestly I feel like I have a good chance to make some noise for sure.”

In all on Wednesday, 40 players finished under par in round 1. That includes Coloradan Scott Petersen, the 2000 Colorado Open winner who posted a 69 and shares ninth place.

Wednesday proved a frustrating day for John Elway, particularly on the par-5s.

Par-5 Woes Lead to 78 for John Elway: John Elway finished fourth a few weeks ago in a big celebrity golf tournament in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, posting scores of 72-69 for a 1-under-par total. And he’s been playing a lot of golf in general lately. All of which made him hopeful of a good showing this week at the Colorado Senior Open, where he’s playing for the fifth time.

Alas, golf being golf, things don’t always go according to plan, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback opened with a 6-over-par 78, his highest score at the CSO since 2014.

“It was a tough one, frustrating,” said the 62-year-old, who has made the cut in three of his previous four CSO appearances, finishing as high as 19th. “I bogeyed three of the four par-5s. I started good, but the middle of it I kind of fell asleep a little bit (going bogey-double bogey-bogey-bogey). It’s disappointing, but that’s kind of golf. It’s always fun to play in these conditions. … It kind of floats my boat now.”

Playing alongside Paul Lobato, with whom he works on his game, and Schalk, with whom he’s partnered in pro-ams at Castle Pines Golf Club, Elway made two birdies, but added a double bogey and six bogeys.

Elway was happy to see a 6-foot par putt fall on No. 18.

That’s out of the ordinary for Elway’s golf game, Schalk said.

“He’s a really good player and he’s a really good putter,” Schalk noted. “He plays really well under pressure — as you can expect (given his history of leading the Broncos to comeback wins). Most of the time we’re playing with John, he’s around that 1 or 2 under to 1 or 2 over mark. He’s a solid player and he still has speed and he hits it plenty far. He hits it as far as me.”

In his four previous Colorado Senior Open appearances, Elway has finished 52nd in 2010, 19th in 2014, 29th in 2016, and missed the 36-hole cut by one stroke in 2018.

Nowadays, Elway has more time to play golf, given that he’s a consultant for the Broncos after being the general manager for a decade.

“I’m getting to play a lot of golf, which has been great. It’s good for the body; it keeps the body moving,” he said. Asked if he’s playing well, he said, “For the most part (but) it’s gotten a little scratchy as of late. I was a little inconsistent today. I’m 90 yards out on all the par-5s and bogey three of them.”

Elway, who sits in 105th place, will need a big improvement — into the top 50 and ties after Thursday’s second round — to make the cut. 

“That was kind of my goal — to make the cut,” he said. “That’s why it’s a little bit disappointing, but we’ll come back out and give it another shot.”

Not surprisingly, Elway drew plenty of media attention on Wednesday.

Notable: Two-time PGA Tour winner Keith Clearwater withdrew with an injury after playing his first nine holes in 6 over — and a few holes of his back nine. … Former U.S. Senator Mark Udall withdrew prior to starting the tournament on Wednesday due to a family matter. … In the amateur competition, Ivan’s 67 leaves him one ahead of Mike Henry of Bloomington, Ill. Jon Lindstrom of Denver, the low amateur three of the last four years, opened with a 70. … Harry Rudolph, winner of both the 2020 and ’21 Colorado Senior Opens who withdrew from this week’s tournament after he Tuesday qualified for the PGA Tour Champions’ Ally Challenge, is one of just two two-time CSO winners, along with Greg Bruckner. … Hallberg, the Longmont resident who won three times on the PGA Tour, started the tournament with a double bogey but rallied to fire a 2-under 70.