Colorado Four-Ball: Carlson and Love Beat the Wind

By Gary Baines

WESTMINSTER, CO (May 4, 2010)--To paraphrase Bob Dylan, perhaps the answer was blowing in the wind for Chris Carlson and Michael Love on Tuesday.

Despite very challenging conditions for golf, Carlson and Love kept their mistakes to a minimum and held off some tough competition to win the CGA Four-Ball title at windblown Legacy Ridge Golf Course. It marked the first CGA championship for Love and the second for Carlson, who won the CGA Mid-Amateur in 2004.

And, as a nice bonus, the two fortysomethings had the pleasure of playing one of their two rounds with former Broncos quarterback John Elway, who teamed with Tom Hart to share second place, two strokes behind the winners. Elway was playing in his first CGA championship, but probably not his last.

The whole experience “feels great,” said Love, a dentist who calls The Club at Pradera his home course. “It’s nice to finally win a state event. I’ve been playing in them for 8, 9, 10 years, so it’s great to be a winner in one of these finally. A state event -- that’s forever.”

In Carlson’s case, the second time around likewise tasted sweet.

“Anytime you can win a CGA event, it’s special,” said Carlson, who plays out of Highlands Ranch Golf Club.

Carlson and Love (left and right in photo) withstood the windy conditions Tuesday to shoot a 1-under-par 70 and post a two-day total of 5-under 138 in the better-ball competition. That was good enough to fend off Elway and Hart, the 2009 Trans-Mississippi Four-Ball champions who tied for second place at 140. Also shooting back-to-back 70s at The Heritage at Westmoor and Legacy Ridge were Tim Fitzgerald of Highlands Ranch Golf Club and Jim Kurtenbach of South Suburban Golf Course.

Defending champions Steve Irwin of Lakewood Country Club and Alex Buecking of Columbine Country Club finished fourth at 141.

“It was really about survival, and not getting flustered,” Carlson said of the second-round conditions. “We knew there were going to be some bogeys out there and that we were going to make some bogeys. I think it was more of a mental test than a physical test. It was a game of survival, that’s all it was.”

While performing well was nice, Carlson and Love said they were primarily motivated by not letting each other down in the team competition.

“It’s a different mentality,” said Carlson, who’s part of a sales group that represents various sportswear companies. “You have to keep yourself alive for your partner. When you let yourself down, you can live with yourself. But you don’t want to let somebody else down. That’s a unique feeling in golf, which is mainly an individual sport. So that part of it added a little pressure.”

Carlson and Love also drew some inspiration from playing in the same group as Elway Monday at The Heritage at Westmoor.

“We wanted to step up and meet the challenge,” Love said.

Elway’s competitive fire -- which helped him lead the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles -- is a big reason why the Pro Football Hall of Famer likes to play tournament golf.

“It’s fun for me to get out and compete, even though it’s frustrating for me because I’m not really the golfer that I was the football player. So it’s a little tough. But the reason I like to play is I like to compete. And it also makes me a better player to be in this (tournament) situation. I always enjoy it.”

Elway has played in three Colorado Opens in the past -- making the cut once -- and foresees competing in more tournaments in the state. There could be more HealthOne Colorado Opens, some Colorado Senior Opens (Elway turns 50 on June 28), and more CGA events.

“I know what the schedule is,” said Elway, who carries a 1 handicap. “I’ll be playing in more of them. … I actually wish I had played more. I really wasn’t aware how many tournaments there were. I enjoy it.”

Tuesday’s final round of the Four-ball senior division competition at The Heritage at Westmoor was postponed due to high winds. A determination on when -- or if -- the round will be rescheduled will be made at a later date. Charlie Post of Colorado Golf Club and Mark Franz of Saddle Rock Golf Course led by one stroke after Monday’s first round with a 4-under-par 67.

In the CGA Net Four-Ball, Tony Goodman of Silver Spruce Golf Course and Ed O’Gallagher of Eisenhower Golf Club teamed up for a 142 total and a six-stroke victory in the open division, while Daniel Hebble of Fossil Trace Golf Club and Willis Walker of South Suburban prevailed in the senior division by two shots with a 134 total.

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