It seemed like a game of miniature golf gone terribly awry. For the life of him, David Schroeder couldn’t keep his ball from rolling back down the formidable ridge on the 15th green at CommonGround Golf Course.
Four times, Schroeder agonized as his ball refused to stay on the upper tier of the two-tier green — where he wanted it. The result was a snowman — a quadruple-bogey 8 — that melted away the Broadmoor golfer’s chances of winning the 75th CGA Stroke Play Championship.
Those miscues, combined with a hard-charging start by Colorado State University golfer Zahkai Brown allowed Brown to overcome a six-shot deficit Sunday and win the title.
“You don’t want that to happen to your playing partner,” Brown said of Schroeder’s struggles on No. 15. “It’s hard to see. He was doing well. But it’s a competitive game. I don’t want to say I was happy, but it helped me win the title.”
Brown, from Indian Tree Golf Course, shot a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine and carded a 5-under 66 overall in the final round, which proved good enough for a three-stroke victory. The 21-year-old, who led after the first round, finished at 13-under-par 271.
Despite trailing by six going into Sunday, Brown caught Schroeder after just nine holes. But a birdie by Schroeder on No. 11 and a bogey by Brown on No. 12 had Schroeder leading by two going into the par-4 15th hole.
The former Fort Lewis College golfer (pictured at left) saw his approach shot trickle down off the top tier of the green, leaving him a difficult sidehill putt up and over a large ridge, with the hole cut not far from the crest of the ridge. Schroeder’s first putt didn’t stay up on the top level, rolling down the hill to the right and off the green.
On each of Schroeder’s next two shots — one played with a wedge and another with a putter — he failed to get his ball over the ridge and it rolled back toward him and off the green. His sixth stroke, which was further from the hole than his third, rolled 15 feet by the cup and he missed that comebacker.
For those keeping score, Schroeder took six shots to get down after having a 35-foot putt.
“I thought I hit a pretty good shot in there and it just caught the ridge and came down,” Schroeder said. “That pin was tucked so tightly on that massive ridge, but I thought I hit a pretty good first putt. It went down. After that it’s just disappointing how many it took me to get the speed right.”
Asked what he would have done differently if he had the hole to play over again, Schroeder said, “I maybe would have made sure that I got it on top of the ridge to ensure at worst a bogey. I guess I was trying to get a little greedy and hit a perfect putt.”
After Brown two-putted for par from the lower level of the green, he suddenly went from two behind to two ahead. And three pars later, he won his second CGA championship, following his 2009 victory in the CGA Public Links. The CSU senior-to-be also recently qualified for his second U.S. Amateur.
“It’s great because it’s something my brother didn’t do,” Zahkai (pictured at left) said of Zen Brown, who won the CGA Match Play and the Public Links but not the Stroke Play. “Growing up he was always better than me. Now that I’m surpassing him, it’s fun.”
“This is definitely a great win, being one of the CGA majors, and there are a lot of great players in the field. It’s one of my best wins for sure. It’s a big achievement for me.”
Schroeder, who led after the second and third rounds, shot a 4-over-par 75 Sunday and finished second at 10-under-par 274. Colorado School of Mines golfer Jim Knous, runner-up in the CGA Stroke Play last year, placed third this time at 275 following a final-round 67.
While Schroeder certainly opened the door for Brown, the CSU golfer made sure he was in position to take advantage with a stellar front nine on Sunday. In addition to making six birdies in his first nine holes — including four in a row from 6 through 9 — Brown missed two 3-footers for birdie.
With Schroeder shooting an even-par 36 on the front side, the tournament was tied with nine holes remaining.
“I just went out firing at every pin, and trying to make putts and it happened,” Brown said. “I had all the momentum and I was really excited. But I was telling myself to calm down and be patient. It’s not over. Keep going.”
Brown wouldn’t make a birdie on the back nine, and even though he was down two after his 12th-hole bogey, he certainly didn’t give up hope.
“We had a few tough holes coming up, then I saw that pin on 15,” he said. “I thought something could happen there. (Schroeder) had a tough putt coming across that mound.”
Schroeder had held at least a share of the lead since Friday, but that changed in a matter of minutes.
“I played 71 good holes,” said Schroeder, who made no worse than a bogey for those 71 holes. “It’s unfortunate that one hole cost me the whole tournament, but I’m proud of myself for how I played on 71 of the 72 holes.”
CommonGround Golf Course is owned and operated by the CGA and the CWGA. When Cherry Hills Country Club hosts the 2012 U.S. Amateur, CommonGround will serve as the second course for the stroke-play portion of the event.
CGA Stroke Play Championship
At Par-71 CommonGround GC in Aurora
Zahkai Brown, Indian Tree GC, 66-73-66-66–271
David Schroeder, Broadmoor GC, 68-64-67-75–274
Jim Knous, GC at Ironbridge, 69-66-73-67–275
Brian Dorfman, Cherry Creek CC, 72-66-67-71–276
Alex Buecking, Columbine CC, 67-67-76-67–277
Danny Riskam, Columbine CC, 67-68-70-73–278
Steven Kupcho, CommonGround GC, 70-69-73-68–280
Jonathan Marsico, Castle Pines GC, 74-69-73-64–280
Steve Irwin, Lakewood CC, 69-69-73-70–281
Cameron Harrell, Pine Creek GC, 73-65-73-70–281
Patrick Wilson, Colorado National GC, 77-69-71-65–282
Brendan Connolly, The CC at Castle Pines, 73-71-68-70–282
Danny Hahn, CommonGround GC, 70-71-71-71–283
Keith Humerickhouse, Glenwood Springs GC, 69-74-72-68–283
Matt Schovee, Cherry Hills CC, 71-67-75-70–283
Brandon Bingaman, Black Canyon GC @ Montrose, 67-76-71-69–283
C.J. Kim, CommonGround GC, 69-70-77-69–285
Steve Connell, Riverdale GC, 67-73-70-76–286
Cody Kent, Plum Creek G&CC, 71-72-72-72–287
Jordan Burgess, Highland Hills GC, 75-70-75-70–290
Michael Lee, Greeley CC, 73-71-71-76–291
Ryan Boshoven, Boomerang GL, 72-73-73-73–291
Joshua Mathis, Colorado Springs CC, 75-70-72-75–292
Andy Moore, The Olde Course at Loveland, 69-74-76-73–292
Bill Fowler, Bear Creek GC, 73-72-72-76–293
Bryan Kruse, Heritage at Westmoor, 70-75-73-78–296
Christopher Wilson, Eisenhower GC, 76-71-74-76–297
Grant Porter, CommonGround GC, 74-72-73-79–298
Oliver Grabb, Boulder CC, 73-73-76-79–301
Christopher Good, Saddle Rock GC, 69-76-80-76–301
Chris Beabout, South Suburban GC, 75-69-78-79–301
Charles Scheinost, Boomerang GL, 72-73-78-78–301
Kory Harrell, Pine Creek GC, 70-74-82-75–301
Thomas Roos, Plum Creek G&CC, 68-78-77-79–302
Dillon Mcdonald, Red Sky GC, 74-73-81-75–303
Wes Martin, The Courses at Hyland Hills, 72-73-79-81–305
Sean Thomas, Indian Tree GC, 73-73-79-82–307
Mike Schoolcraft, Cherry Hills CC, 68-68-72-DQ