AURORA, Colo. (July 10, 2008)--A U.S. Amateur Public Links historian can tell you that families provide a strong link for success in this championship.
The first example is the Barenaba brothers of Hawaii. Charles won in 1974 and Randy won in 1975. Then there are the Mudd brothers of Kentucky - Eddie, who won in 1976 and Jodie, who won in 1980 and 1981.
At Murphy Creek Golf Course, site of this year’s APL, we introduce the Grady boys of nearby Broomfield. They took two of the five places in the sectional qualifier held here on June 23-24.
For these two products of the University of Colorado golf program, 23-year-old Jim and 22-year-old Patrick, it’s a meeting-of-the-moons moment.
Not only do they get to play in a national championship, they can do it together in their home state with many family and friends in attendance for support.
"It’s going to be awesome," said Patrick Grady. "I think it’s really cool that we both got in.
"I have wanted to play in this event so bad for about three years. It’s awesome to play at home. We always have the disadvantage. We play at altitude at home and we are always going to play at sea level. We are always playing on different grasses. It’s awesome to finally have the advantage one time. It’s awesome to have an advantage in a big national tournament."
Recent APL history should have the Grady brothers smiling.
Connecticut brothers Brent and Cody Paladino of Kensington played in the 2007 championship at Cantigny Golf Course in Wheaton, Ill. and Cody advanced to the final against Colt Knost but lost 6 and 4. Brent lost in the second round of match play.
Also true to history, Kellen Watabu of Kapaa, Hawaii, younger brother of 2006 champion Casey Watabu, earned the first qualifying spot for the championship on June 7.
Not only are the brothers Grady playing in the APL, but two of the three other Murphy Creek qualifiers have a tie – Zachary Zaremba and Gabriel Maier are teammates at the University of Wyoming. Medalist Riley Arp of Fort Collins is a Colorado State player.
Patrick Grady, born on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 1986) is the reigning Colorado Golf Association Player of the Year. He won the CGA Public Links in 2007, the CGA Match Play in 2005 and the CGA Stroke Play in 2006. He’s the only player to win all three CGA ‘majors’. He’s also won CGA Boys Match Play (2004). He is playing in his second Amateur Public Links; his first was in 2004.
Older brother, Jim, finally qualified for his first APL in seven tries. He conceded the younger Grady is the better player. "At least I have half my name on those Colorado (Golf Association) trophies," he said.
The brothers won 2007 CGA Two-Man by shooting 64-71 for a three-stroke margin.
Colorado roots run deep for the brothers.
"My Mom’s family has lived in Colorado for over 100 years and my Dad’s family is second generation," said Pat, who did not compete collegiately in 2008 as a red-shirt.
"I got a lot better red-shirting this year because I practiced a lot," Grady said. "I wasn’t really that good before."
While Jim, age 23 and a May graduate of Colorado with a finance degree, remains modest about his play, he has experienced regional success. The bigger of the two at 6-1 and 205 pounds, Jim was third in the 2007 Colorado Cup points standings and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2007 CGA Match Play. He was second at the CGA Public Links in 2004 and third in the CGA Stroke Play in 2004. He advanced to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open.
"I’m one for seven," said Jim of finally making the field of 156. "I’ve been close a few times, been an alternate."
He estimated he has played Murphy Creek 17-18 times in the last six years. "There’s a lot of local knowledge on this course," he said. "It’s good to have a lot of Colorado kids in from this qualifier."
He echoes his brother’s sentiment about having an advantage because of Murphy Creek’s 5,000-plus foot altitude.
"It’s an advantage for us because it’s kind of weird to control your distances when your wedge goes 162 yards out here," said the older Grady. "In a way it’s more of an advantage for kids who are used to it."
Another advantage is sleeping at home in Broomfield just 30 minutes away from Aurora.
"It means a lot," Jim said. "I thought it would be really cool if I could qualify. A lot of people that I know might come out and watch if I did well."
Among those coming out would be his parents, Julie and Frank, and younger brother Joe, 21.
"Mom plays golf but my dad’s obsessed with golf," Jim said. "He gets a new driver every month."
However, the best support might just come from Joe, who is a junior at Regis University in Denver and is studying for the priesthood. One of the bat boys for the Colorado Rockies in 2006, Joe Grady, according to Jim, has "never played a round of golf in his life. He’s never been interested in sports. He’s more interested in more meaningful things."
--By Pete Kowalski, USGA