David Oraee wins Colorado Match Play
Colorado G.A. photo
Colorado G.A. photo
David Oraee went to Greeley West High School, and he plays out of Highland Hills Golf Course and competes for the University of Colorado.

Parker Edens went to Greeley Central High School, and he plays out of Greeley Country Club and competes for Colorado State University.

In other words, they're rivals, albeit on friendly terms.

They've played plenty of golf against one another, but Friday's matchup was for higher stakes than normal -- the title in the 113th CGA Match Play Championship.

And in the end, Oraee's strong, largely mistake-free play at Bear Creek Golf Club in west Denver landed him a spot on the historic Match Play trophy. Oraee made only one bogey in 31 holes in Friday's final en route to a 6 and 5 title-clinching victory over Edens.

"We love playing against each other," said Oraee (pictured above and at left), a junior-to-be at CU. "Obviously we've always gone to rival schools in high school and college. It was fun. It's fun to play against someone you've known for a while. And it's awesome that we're both from Greeley. We bring the city name some 'rep'. It feels good to do this."

Indeed, something about the CGA Match Play seems to bring out the best in players from Greeley.

Oraee became the second golfer from the town to win the Match Play title in the last three years, joining 2011 champ Michael Lee. And Edens has been runner-up in the Match Play each of the last two years.

But on Friday, Oraee never gave Edens much hope, going 6 under pars for the 31 holes. Since 1990, only one CGA Match Play final has produced a bigger margin of victory: Zen Brown's 10 and 9 win over Tom Glissmeyer in 2007 at Bear Creek.

"It's disappointing, but David played unbelievable golf," said Edens (pictured at left), a senior-to-be at CSU. "I think he made one bogey today. That's what you've got to do out here to win. I didn't play great but he played just wonderful golf. He putted lights out. That's some of the best putting I've ever seen. It was just wonderful."

Oraee capped off the match in style by chipping in for birdie from 30 feet on the menacing 173-yard 13th hole at Bear Creek. It was Oraee's fourth birdie in his final six holes.

Oraee's pre-match strategy -- to divide the final into four nine-hole matches -- worked out for him as he "won" three of those nines and tied the other.

"A common problem with match play is getting ahead of yourself," the 20-year-old said. "You think ahead, then you lose a few holes and you're in a tight match. I didn't want that to happen, so I kept my head down and plugged away and tried to get them where I could and it just worked out."

The winner of the 2010 5A state high school title, Oraee trailed only once on Friday, after the first hole, where Edens made a birdie. Oraee won the next three holes -- two with pars and one with a birdie -- to go 2 up. That would be Oraee's smallest lead for the remainder of the day, and that's how the match stood through 24 holes before Oraee's strong finish.

Oraee didn't show any ill effects from playing his third consecutive two-round day as he made seven birdies Friday, offset by his lone bogey, on the 22nd hole. Edens, meanwhile, struggled on the greens in the title match, three-putting three times in the first seven holes of the afternoon round.

"The big difference today was the putting," Edens said. "He putted great, I didn't putt very well. We both hit it pretty well. He just putted lights out and I didn't make anything."

Oraee called winning the championship the top accomplishment to date in his golf career.

"I haven't won a very prestigious event (before Friday)," he said. "I've finished well in a lot of them, especially college events, but I really haven't gotten it done. It feels good to do it here. It took a lot to do it. I'm pretty proud of myself the way I hung in there. It's a pretty big tournament and there are a lot of good players here."

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