Chris Korte knew how it felt to win state golf championships. After all, he helped Regis Jesuit capture state high school titles in both 2012 and ’13, extending the Raiders’ streak to four overall.
But claiming team championships is a different animal than winning major individual titles. On Sunday, the University of Denver golfer added the latter to his expanding golf resume.
After turning 19 less than a week ago, Korte won arguably Colorado’s most prestigious amateur golf title on Sunday. The player from Lone Tree Golf Club put on a show with his irons in the final round, firing a 6-under-par 65 and overcoming a four-shot deficit to capture the 79th CGA Stroke Play Championship at CommonGround Golf Course.
“This is incredible,” he said. “The field is so strong here. I’ve been dreaming about it pretty much all summer. This has been my focus. I’ve been working really hard to get to this point. I was really glad I could pull it off today.
“This is definitely my biggest win for sure, and it feels awesome.”
Sunday marked the fourth time in the last five years that the Stroke Play champion has posted a 66 or better on the final day to win the amateur title.
Korte (pictured at left, below and also above, getting congratulated by DU coach Erik Billinger) made eight birdies in the final round, six of them coming after approach shots settled within 10 feet of the pin.
“The irons did feel great,” he said. “They were some of the best shots I’ve hit for a while.
“I was lucky I had my swing coach, Richard Olshock, come out and watch me on the range before the round. He told me to keep the tempo slow because I was getting a little bit quick. That tends to happen when you get a little nervous. (During the round) I felt like I was swinging it great and I picked small targets, and fortunately hit a few of them.”
Korte made a major surge in the middle of his round Sunday, carding six birdies in a seven-hole stretch. Still, he trailed third-round leader Nathaniel Goddard, a Colorado Christian University golfer, by two with four holes remaining.
Goddard, who had shot a tournament-best 63 on Saturday, had kept his advantage mainly thanks to his putter. He had three putts in a four-hole stretch from No. 11 through 14, chipping in for birdie from 65 feet on No. 12.
But the 21-year-old from Ptarmigan Country Club paid the price for an errant driver down the stretch and he bogeyed each of the last four holes, with two of them attributable to poor drives.
“The driver, it just left,” said Goddard (left). “I was hitting it great yesterday and at the beginning of today. It just happened to leave me. At least the putter stayed around for a little bit. It kept me in it.
“I’m disappointed, but it’s just golf at the end of the day. I’m not too mad. I played well, he just played better.”
After Goddard kept Korte at bay much of the day, it was on the par-4 16th where the DU golfer overtook his CCU counterpart by making a 2-foot birdie. That was good for a two-shot swing as Goddard’s approach went well over the green and he posted a bogey.
Korte, the Summit League Newcomer of the Year last season as a DU freshman, finished with 20 birdies for the week, and nothing worse than a bogey, in capturing the N.C. “Tub” Morris Trophy. He posted a 15-under-par 269 total for his first CGA championship title.
Goddard, a semifinalist in the CGA Match Play held last month — also at CommonGround, closed with a 72 Sunday to place second at 272.
In a tournament in which the top six finishers play golf for Colorado-based college teams, Jimmy Makloski (Colorado State) and Ethan Freeman (University of Colorado) tied for third at 276. Colin Prater (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs) was fifth at 277 and Ross Macdonald (CU) was sixth at 279. Makloski (pictured at left, in white, with Freeman) has been second and third in the last two CGA Stroke Plays.
Korte’s 15-under-par tally was the best total relative to par in the CGA Stroke Play since Ryan Stephens won at 18-under-par 270 at Murphy Creek Golf Course in 2007.
“I just needed to keep making birdies because pars weren’t going to close the gap,” Korte noted. “I felt like I needed to stay aggressive. Nathaniel played great all the way through. I felt like I needed to be spot on to get the trophy.
“Honestly (going into the week) I would say I was expecting a great finish,” Korte added. “I’ve been hitting it great lately and since the Colorado Open I’ve found something in the putting. I’ve just been rolling it great. And I’ve just been hitting it awesome lately and really minimizing the misses. The biggest thing was keeping the bogeys down — and not making any doubles.”
Though Korte had a two-shot lead while playing the 18th hole, he threw a curve-ball by asking if he could use a caddie for the final half of the hole. After Billinger double checked that it was allowed, Korte put friend — and University of Louisville golfer — Gus Lundquist on the bag. (The two are pictured together at left.)
Lundquist was also competing in the tournament — he ended up finishing 15th — but a rules official approved the move.
Joked Lundquist after the round, “I think I made all the difference.”
But Korte said it helped to have a sounding board while completing his round — which he did with a routine par. Goddard closed with a bogey after his drive ended up against a tree and he took an unplayable lie.
“We’ve been practicing a ton together lately,” Korte said of Lundquist, a two-time U.S. Amateur qualifier. “We work with the same coach, and I just feel really comfortable around him. I was a bit nervous. I knew I had a couple-shot cushion. I didn’t want to go for the green (on the par-5 18th in two), even though I was in position to. I wanted to hit a lay-up shot and leave myself with an easy wedge, which I did. I was lucky to have (Lundquist). I was going to hit 6-iron up there and he convinced me to hit 8-iron and just keep it short of that bunker, which is perfect. So I was lucky to have him come out.”
As for Goddard (left), the finish obviously wasn’t what he was looking for after shooting the low round of his life a day before, but he tried to look for the positives.
“At least I put myself there,” he said. “I know it didn’t end well, but it’s another learning experience, I guess. It’s just golf. It happens sometimes.”
Not surprisingly, given that the CGA Match Play was held at the same course as the Stroke Play, both Goddard and Korte fared well in that championship last month. In fact, both lost to eventual champion Nick Nosewicz, with Korte falling in the quarterfinals and Goddard in the semis.
Nosewicz finished 15th in the Stroke Play on Sunday after tying for second last year.
Next year’s 80th CGA Stroke Play is scheduled for Boulder Country Club.
CGA Stroke Play Championship
At Par-71 CommonGround GC in Aurora
Chris Korte, Lone Tree GC, 68-66-70-65–269
Nathaniel Goddard, Ptarmigan CC, 70-67-63-72–272
Jimmy Makloski, Pueblo CC, 68-70-69-69–276
Ethan Freeman, Glenmoor CC, 67-69-71-69–276
Colin Prater, Broadmoor GC, 69-72-66-70–277
Ross Macdonald, CC at Castle Pines, 70-68-69-72–279
Braden Baer, Legacy Ridge GC, 67-69-75-70–281
Chris Thayer, Bear Creek GC, 72-70-70-71–283
Jon Lindstrom, Lakewood CC, 67-73-71-73–284
Glenn Workman, Desert Hawk GC, 69-73-73-70–285
Connor Klein, Lone Tree GC, 67-72-74-73–286
Zach Svendsen, CommonGround GC, 69-72-71-74–286
Taylor Mackay, Black Hawk CC, 70-71-74-71–286
Danny Riskam, Columbine CC, 71-71-72-73–287
Gus Lundquist, Colorado GC, 68-72-77-71–288
Brendan Connolly, The Ridge at CPN, 64-75-75-74–288
Jeff Chapman, Inverness GC, 72-71-73-72–288
Matt Robertson, Foothills GC, 75-69-72-72–288
Nick Nosewicz, Meadow Hills GC, 67-74-75-72–288
Conner Barr, S. Suburban GC, 70-73-75-70–288
Steven Kupcho, Heritage at Westmoor, 70-74-75-70–289
Andrew Romano, Colorado GC, 76-71-73-69–289
Behrod Keshtavar, Colorado Natl. GC, 66-72-71-81–290
Ryan Axlund, CommonGround GC, 75-73-72-71–291
Brodie Hullinger, CommonGround GC, 75-73-70-73–291
Alex Kephart, Eisenhower GC, 71-76-73-72–292
Matthew Goddard, Ptarmigan CC, 75-72-71-74–292
Clayton Crawford, Maroon Creek Club, 73-73-75-71–292
Cole Cunningham, Valley CC, 71-73-71-78–293
Tristan Sanders, CommonGround GC, 73-74-76-70–293
Pierce Aichinger, CJGA Club, 69-73-73-78–293
Adam Pladson, Green Valley Ranch, 71-75-71-77–294
Jack Cummings, Omni Interlocken, 71-77-75-73–296
Ryan Schmitz, Colorado GC, 71-76-75-75–297
Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC, 71-77-75-76–299
Brad Rowe, Ute Creek GC, 71-77-74-77–299
Neil Tillman, Heritage at Westmoor, 72-70-76-81–299
Keegan Sheard, Applewood GC, 71-74-80-75–300
Blair Matthews, CommonGround GC, 76-72-76-76–300
Sam Marley, S. Suburban GC, 71-76-80-75–302
Cody Kent, Club at Ravenna, 72-76-80-75–303
Bill Parker, Meadow Hills GC, 75-70-85-77–307
Dylan Mitchell, Lakewood CC, 71-75-78-83–307
Missed 36-Hole Cut
Sean Kato, Highland Hills GC, 74-75–149
John Gorell, Patty Jewett GC, 74-75–149
Tim Amundson, Columbine CC, 75-74–149
Cameron Berndt, Spring Valley GC, 73-76–149
Griffin Barela, Fox Hollow GC, 69-80–149
Brian Hawk, Riverdale GC, 72-77–149
Sam Nichamin, Red Sky GC, 77-73–150
Emerson Wood, CommonGround GC, 78-72–150
Matt Porter, CommonGround GC, 73-78–151
Drew Vance, Fox Hollow GC, 74-77–151
Dylan Wonnacott, Fox Hill Club, 74-77–151
Hayden Nicholaides, S. Suburban GC, 77-74–151
Chris Wilson, Eisenhower GC, 77-74–151
Marc Shirazi, Greeley CC, 76-76–152
Jon Kuzava, Columbine CC, 76-76–152
Dylan Jirsa, Estes Park GC, 73-79–152
Blake Young, Trinidad GC, 70-83–153
Bob Beiersdorf, The Ridge at CPN, 79-74–153
Collin Tedesco, Plum Creek GC, 73-80–153
Josh McLaughlin, Olde Course at Loveland, 74-80–154
Jared Tedesco, Plum Creek GC, 76-79–155
Cole Evans, Vail GC, 78-77–155
Chris Dillon, CommonGround GC, 75-81–156
Kenny Burnham, Colorado Natl. GC, 79-77–156
Ben Lanting, Bear Creek GC, 78-78–156
Ryan Bent, CommonGround GC, 73-84–157
Alan Boyko, Heritage at Westmoor, 80-77–157
Chad Gonzalez, Pinery CC, 82-78–160
Shane Elliot, Indian Tree GC, 81-79–160
Jeff Slupe, Ptarmigan CC, 79-82–161
Davis Bonner, Meridian GC, 78-83–161
Garrett Jones, West Woods GC, 80-82–162
Eric Mccreesh, Saddle Rock GC, 82-83–165
Cody Steigerwald, Club at Flying Horse, 80-85–165
Webb Henderson, CommonGround GC, 83-82–165
Daniel Mastrobuono, Clubcorp Colorado, 82-88–170
Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC, 71-NC
Adam Griffith, Thorncreek GC, 78-WD
Grant Dinkel, Flatirons GC 78-WD