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     BOULDER — One of, if not the premier state golf opens in the country celebrates its 50th birthday this week, and 19 former or current University of Colorado golfers will be participating in the milestone event.
     The 50th annual HealthOne Colorado Open is set for this Thursday through Sunday at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver.  Two of featured threesomes out of the 52 are completely comprised of former Buffaloes for the 72-hole event on the challenging 7,200-yard, par-71 Green Valley layout.
     Jonathan Kaye (’93 CU graduate), the 1996 champion, will be joined by Luke Symons (’11) and current Buffalo senior-to-be David Oraee in a group that tees off on No. 1 at 8:05 a.m. Thursday; they will play together on Friday as well, beginning play on No. 18 at 1 p.m.  Kaye, who was sidelined due to injury from the PGA Tour for a while, is back playing again with a desire to return to the Tour, where he has won over $10 million in career earnings. 
     Then at 8:15 a.m. (Thursday) also off No. 1, 2007 champion John Douma (’97) tees off with 2000 winner Scott Petersen (’93), with that duo grouped with ’10 grad Justin Bardgett.  They play again at 1:10 p.m. on Friday starting on the back nine.
     Oraee will be joined by two of his teammates in the field, junior Drew Trujillo and sophomore Ethan Freeman; the other three current Buffaloes are all playing in amateur events in Europe.  The only two-time Colorado Open professional champion with CU ties is also in the field, as Derek Tolan returns to see if he can claim his third title in the last six years.
     “The HealthOne Colorado Open is the premier state open in the country and we have a strong history of success with current and former Buff golfers,” CU head coach Roy Edwards said.  “So many great Buffs have won the event as pros and been the low amateur while competing for CU.  Everything about the Colorado Open is first class—from the golf course, the purse, the hospitality, the administration, and the quality of field.  The Colorado Open is an event all our current and former players circle on their calendars.”
     Historically, no other college has enjoyed more success in the Colorado Open than the University of Colorado: former (or even current) Buffaloes have won nine titles, along with claiming low amateur honors 10 times.
     Hale Irwin was the school’s first champion, winning low amateur accolades in the 1967 event prior to turning professional.  Les Fowler was the low am titlist in 1971 and 1973, with Steve Jones following with two low am victories, the first in 1978 when he was a sophomore-to-be and the second in 1981, right before he turned pro.  Other CU low amateurs included Matt Potter (1985), Mike Troyer (1995), Kenny Coakley (2004), Steve Irwin (2006) and Patrick Grady (2007); Potter, Coakley and Grady all won while still in school.
     Larry Webb was the first CU alum to win the professional crown, doing so in 1980; Jones was next in 1988, followed by Kaye in 1996 and Bill Riddle in 1999 to close out the millennium.  Petersen won to open the new century in 2000, with Douma taking honors in 2007.  Tolan then won his first in 2009 and repeated in 2012, with Ben Portie grabbing medalist honors in-between in 2011.
     “I know it has been an event that has kicked off a lot of careers in professional golf,” Edwards added.  “The Colorado Open has always been dedicated to helping players with ties to Colorado and is always a tremendous tool for the guys on our current roster to see how they measure up against a quality professional field.”
     On Sunday, former CU women’s golfer LindaSue (Linton) Chenoweth will receive the Robert Kirchner Award, which is presented to someone who has contributed greatly to amateur golf, professional golf, and/or tournament golf in the State of Colorado.  Chenoweth was the longtime chief operations officer of the Open.
     A full field of 156 players will compete Thursday and Friday, with a cut to low 60 plus ties for the final two rounds on the weekend as the professionals vie for a share of the $125,000 purse. There is no charge for admission or parking at Green Valley Ranch.
Thursday Tee Times – CU Golfers
(in Friday’s second round, they start on the opposite nine)
    7:20  (10)  Derek Fribbs, Kevin Kring
    7:25  (  1)  Dave Troyer
    7:55  (10)  Kane Webber
    8:05  (  1)  Luke Symons, Jonathan Kaye, David Oraee (a)
    8:15  (  1) John Douma, Scott Petersen, Justin Bardgett
    8:25  (  1)  Ethan Freeman (a)
    9:05  (  1)  Patrick Grady
  12:00  (10)  Dan Sniffin
  12:25  (  1)  Tyler Engel
  12:30  (10)  Drew Trujillo (a)
  12:50  (10)  Derek Tolan
    1:05  (  1)  Ben Portie
    1:20  (10)  Kevin Bolles
    1:25  (  1)  Beau Schoolcraft
(a)--amateur. (#)--indicates starting hole.