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Best of the Best

Ott, Thayer, Ivan, Forey earn 2018 men's player of the year honors from CGA

by Gary Baines - 11/23/2018

(Updated Dec. 7) The last three years, players who have started their college golf careers at Colorado State University have treated the CGA Les Fowler Player of the Year Award like a tag-team affair.

The honor has gone from one Ram signee to another to another.

Kyler Dunkle, who transferred from CSU to Utah in 2016, started the run that same year. In 2017, it was CSU's Jake Staiano who earned the award as the top amateur golfer in the state. And this year, the Rams' AJ Ott (left) has landed the CGA Les Fowler POY honor.

"It really means a lot," Ott said recently by text regarding earning the award. "We have so many good players around the state and I’m very blessed just to be able to compete with those guys. We’re all very close friends and have played against each other in Colorado since we were kids, which makes competing against one another that much better."

Ott, a Fort Collins resident who plays out of Ptarmigan Country Club, is one of three CGA men's players of the year that have been decided for 2018. On Monday, we'll publish a story on the CGA women's players of the year.

Other CGA men's honorees that have been settled on are Chris Thayer (below) of Walnut Creek Golf Preserve (Mid-Amateur POY), Steve Ivan of Patty Jewett Golf Course in Colorado Springs (Senior POY) and Sean Forey of The Club at Rolling Hills (Super-Senior POY). See below for the highlights of their 2018 seasons.

As for Ott, the 21-year-old left-hander won the 118th CGA Match Play title and qualified for his second straight U.S. Amateur to highlight a stellar season.

At the CGA Match Play at The Golf Club at Ravenna, Ott shot a 6-under-par 65 to finish second in the stroke-play qualifying round, then won six matches. He was particularly impressive in the last two. He made a double eagle in beating former champion Brian Dorfman 3 and 1 in the semifinals. Then in one of the most lopsided scheduled 36-hole finals in the event's history, Ott defeated friend Ross Macdonald 9 and 8 for the title.

"I think the Match Play this year was great just because of the week-long test and it felt good to finally come through and get a win," Ott said. "Playing against one of my best friends, Ross, was something I’ll never forget. He’s helped me a lot with my game in the past and we both have had our struggles at times so it was great to see us both get to that final match at the end of the week."

In U.S. Amateur qualifying at Fort Collins Country Club, Ott fired rounds of 68-65 to finish second and earn a berth in the national championship for the second consecutive year.

Elsewhere this year, Ott placed 19th in the CoBank Colorado Open -- third among amateurs -- and 10th in the CGA Amateur. In college events in 2018, He finished fifth in the Mountain West Conference Championship and ninth in both the Ram Masters Invitational and the Paintbrush Invitational.

The CGA Les Fowler Player of the Year honor is the second statewide POY award for Ott, who was the 2016 Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's Boys Player of the Year.

As for highlights for the other CGA players of the year that have been decided ...

-- Chris Thayer of Walnut Creek Golf Preserve (CGA Mid-Amateur Player of the Year) -- Thayer has now won this award the last four years, which establishes a record for the 25-and-older category.

Thayer has a remarkable record in the CGA Mid-Amateur in recent years. In the last five times the championship has been contested, he's finished first, second, second, first and second. He was runner-up in the event in late September, a stroke behind champion Jared Reid.

Earlier in September, Thayer tied for 53rd place in the stroke-play portion of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, but failed in a playoff to advance to match play. The month before, he earned medalist honors in Colorado-based qualifying for the event.

Thayer also finished 13th in the CGA Amateur -- following a final-round 66 at Pinehurst Country Club -- and was among three players who represented Colorado at the Pacific Coast Amateur in San Francisco. Early in the season, he teamed with Nick Nosewicz to place third in the CGA Four-Ball Championship.

-- Steve Ivan of Patty Jewett Golf Course (CGA Senior Player of the Year) -- Ivan (left) has accomplished plenty in golf over the decades, but in the last 14 months or so, he's certainly stepped it up a notch on the state level.

The former University of Colorado golfer -- he was a teammate of 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones -- Ivan won the 2017 CGA Senior Amateur. He finished runner-up in the 2018 CGA Senior Match Play, falling to Wyoming resident John Hornbeck in the final. And he also placed second in his title defense at the 2018 CGA Senior Amateur, behind only three-time CGA Senior POY Robert Polk.

Ivan, winner of the 1979 CGA Junior Match, finished second among amateurs at the CoBank Colorado Senior Open, and was fourth in the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Senior Open, falling a little short of advancing to the national championship held at The Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs.

-- Sean Forey of The Club at Rolling Hills (CGA Super-Senior Player of the Year) -- Now Forey will have bookends for his trophy case.

Eight years ago, the golfer from The Club at Rolling Hills earned the CGA Senior Player of the Year Award. And this fall, the 65-year-old from Morrison has added the CGA Super-Senior POY honor for players 62 and older.

Forey (left) recorded two victories in CGA super-senior events in 2018 -- at the Super-Senior Stroke Play and the super-senior division of the CGA Senior Four-Ball -- with Scott Radcliffe.

 At the Super-Senior Stroke Play in August at Perry Park Country Club, Forey notched a four-shot victory. After finishing second, third, fourth and fifth in previous appearances at the event, landing the title was a welcome outcome for him.

Besides his showings at the Super-Senior Stroke Play and the Senior Four-Ball, Forey was a semifinalist in the CGA Super-Senior Match Play and finished ninth in the CGA Senior Amateur that was won by 63-year-old Robert Polk.

Forey, the low amateur in the CoBank Colorado Senior Open in both 2008 and 2010, led the CGA super-senior points list this year.


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