Birthday Boy

When Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Kent Moore was apprised of who stood atop the leaderboard with nine holes left in the 45th CGA Senior Amateur Championship, he noted, “It’s like a club championship.”

Indeed, with Club at Rolling Hills members Kevin Ott and Bill Fowler setting the pace throughout much of the CGA Senior Am — which just happened to be played at Rolling Hills — it had some of the flavor of an intraclub tournament.

And the final outcome on Thursday further bore that out. Ott and Fowler battled it out through the final round and ended up finishing 1-2, with Thomas Roos of Spring Valley Golf Club tying Fowler for the runner-up spot.

“This is definitely a home-course advantage, for sure,” Ott said after celebrating his 51st birthday with the victory. “… It’s got to be a couple strokes a day (advantage). It just is. It’s not an accident that (Fowler) and I were so high up (the leaderboard). It just helps. I’ve played these greens so much, I know how they’re going to break. But you still have to hit good putts.”

Ott (left and above) went wire-to-wire and fended off Fowler and Roos in claiming his first CGA championship. But it was definitely an eventful final few holes, with Ott going double bogey-double bogey-birdie, and Fowler going birdie-triple bogey-birdie.

“I tell you what: It was a rollercoaster,” Ott said of final stretch.

Ott took a three-stroke lead into the 16th hole Thursday, but a tee shot that went into the right trees, resulting in a pitch-out, led to a double bogey after he three-putted. And Fowler, last year’s champion, rolled in a 10-foot birdie to erase all of his three-shot deficit in one hole.

“I felt like I was going to do it,” Fowler said of winning a second straight title. “After I got even on 16, I thought, ‘You know what? I can do this.’ I thought it was my tournament to win, and that didn’t happen.”

Amazingly, Ott regained the lead on the 17th hole despite taking another double bogey. Both he and Fowler (left) missed the green on the par-3, and the defending champion mishit his short pitch shot from a tight lie and his ball ended up in the bunker that was between him and the hole. Fowler left his next shot — from a plugged lie — in the sand and ended up with a very costly triple bogey. Meanwhile, Ott couldn’t hold the green with his pitch, then took three to get down from there for his double bogey.

“I lost my focus,” said Fowler, a former CGA president. “After I pulled even with him through 16, I just didn’t gather myself and collect myself and play a smart 17th hole. That’s where you need a caddie to settle you down a little bit. I didn’t do what I needed to do.

“I had a little adrenaline, so I took one less club, then I mis-hit it. Then I had the tight lie, and the ball plugged in the bunker. It was a comedy of errors. “

All of which left Ott tied with Roos and one up on Fowler going into the final hole. There, Fowler hit the pin with his third shot on the par-5 and had just a foot left for his birdie. “It went down, half into the hole,” Ott said of Fowler’s approach shot. “I thought it was in. Somehow it just kind of rimmed out.”

Ott, who had driven over a ditch that crosses the 18th fairway then hit a hybrid to the front of the green, two-putted from about 70 feet for a birdie of his own. He knocked in a 3 footer and signaled the victory with a fist pump.

“I thought I gave it away after 16,” said Ott, who has competed in just a handful of CGA championships in his life. “Then Bill helped me out on 17, then I finished strong.

“This is the best win I’ve ever had by far. It’s unbelievable really. I never thought I’d pull it off.”

Ott, who also led after the first two days, closed with a 5-over-par 76 on Thursday, leaving him with a winning total of 6-over 219. “I made 10 birdies the first two days. I only made two today — and I needed those two,” Ott noted with relief.

Fowler ended up runner-up the year after winning, shooting a final-round 75. Tying him at 220 was Roos (left), who closed with a 72, matching the best round of the day on a Rolling Hills course that features very formidable greens.

Though Roos lamented parring the 18th hole — he put a 54-yard approach shot into a bunker, but got up and down for a 5 — his showing was a career-best of sorts.

“I feel good,” he said. “It’s the best finish I’ve ever had in a (CGA) major.”

Brian Woody of The Ridge at Castle Pines North placed fourth at 225, while three-time champion Robert Polk of Colorado Golf Club ended up fifth at 226 as both carded 78s on Thursday.

Interestingly, while it wasn’t hard to predict that Rolling Hills members would do well at the Senior Amateur — given how confounding the greens can be for players unfamiliar with them — Ott (left) didn’t seem likely to head the local contingent. After all, Fowler was the defending champion in the event, Scott Radcliffe has won two CGA senior majors and Sean Forey was the 2010 CGA Senior Player of the Year.

But that’s part of the beauty of golf and other sports. There’s always a level of unpredictability that keeps things interesting.

After moving around as a youth — he lived in Australia and Indonesia, along with Colorado and Wyoming — Ott has resided in Colorado continuously since 1992. The Arvada resident joined Rolling Hills about 15 years ago, but interestingly, has never won an open-division club championship there.

“I’ve been second a lot,” Ott said. “Bill Fowler, Sean Forey and Scott Radcliffe — they’re three of the best amateur golfers in the state. But this year I won the senior club championship with those three guys (in the field).”

And now, like those three players, Ott has earned statewide golf acclaim.

CGA Senior Amateur Championship
At Par-71 The Club at Rolling Hills in Golden

Kevin Ott, Club at Rolling Hills, 70-73-76–219
Thomas Roos, Spring Valley GC, 73-75-72–220
Bill Fowler, Club at Rolling Hills, 72-73-75–220
Brian Woody, Ridge at Castle Pines N, 75-72-78–225
Robert Polk, Colorado GC, 73-75-78–226
Mark Brown, Highlands Ranch GC, 76-73-79–228
Michael Smith, Rifle Creek GC, 74-74-80–228
John Ingram, Hiwan GC, 75-76-78–229
Michael Larson, Boulder CC, 74-78-78–230
Mark Franz, Saddle Rock GC, 81-78-72–231
James Sisneros, Eisenhower GC, 74-81-76–231
Lance Balthaser, Englewood GC, 77-79-76–232
Scott Radcliffe, Club at Rolling Hills, 75-79-78–232
Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC, 76-73-83–232
Randy Dolan, CommonGround GC, 76-76-80–232
Robin Bradbury, Heritage at Westmoor, 82-75-76–233
Jeff Slupe, Highland Meadows GC, 77-73-83–233
Jim LeMar, Meadows GC, 77-77-80–234
Sean Forey, Club at Rolling Hills, 78-75-81–234
Dave Brown, Highlands Ranch GC, 73-82-79–234
Keith Atkins, Harmony Club, 79-77-78–234
Paul Edwards, Meridian GC, 78-75-81–234
Kent Moore, Cherry Hills CC, 80-77-78–235
Harry Johnson, Eagle Ranch GC, 75-79-81–235
Scott Sullivan, Bookcliff CC, 79-76-80–235
Bob Chandler, Foothills GC, 75-79-82–236
Dan Falagrady, Heritage at Westmoor, 78-76-82–236
Mike Lohse, West Woods GC, 72-78-87–237
David Merritt, Meridian GC, 79-76-82–237
Pat Stanton, Breckenridge GC, 76-80-81–237
Robert West, Cherry Creek CC, 75-78-84–237
Jay Orris, Boulder CC, 78-81-79–238
James Pullin, Collindale GC, 74-85-81–240
Gary Fox, CC at Castle Pines, 82-76-82–240
Brent Timm, Pinery CC, 81-75-85–241
Gary Driber, Ridge at Castle Pines N, 80-77-85–242
John Meredith, Indian Peaks GC, 78-81-83–242
Steve Sullivan, Lone Tree GC, 84-75-85–244
Pat Bowe, CommonGround GC, 81-78-DQ
Tom Musselman, Telluride GC, 75-78-WD
Kary Kaltenbacher, Glenmoor CC, 77-79-WD

Missed the 36-Hole Cut
Patrick Horvath, Murphy Creek GC, 80-80–160
Owen Ellis, Flatirons GC, 77-83–160
Rick George, Castle Pines GC, 82-78–160
Steve Kass, Aurora Hills GC, 80-80–160
Guy Mertz, Fox Hill Club, 81-80–161
Scott Crone, Pinehurst CC, 78-84–162
Ted Warner, Greeley CC, 82-80–162
Roger Lawson, Wellshire GC, 81-81–162
Doug Phelps, Foothills GC, 82-80–162
Robert Bulthaup, Valley CC, 83-80–163
Bob Beiersdorf, Ridge at Castle Pines N, 84-79–163
Mark Armistead, Highlands Ranch GC, 87-76–163
Tony Goodman, Silver Spruce GC, 88-76–164
Bradley Becker, Plum Creek GC, 80-84–164
Mark Bedinger, Club at Rolling Hills, 81-83–164
Bill Bolgar, Ridge at Castle Pines N, 84-80–164
Eugene Cahill, West Woods GC, 80-84–164
Mark Dunivan, Silver Spruce GC, 78-86–164
Dave Mittan, Red Hawk Ridge GC, 84-80–164
Jim Jagels, Hiwan GC, 85-81–166
Jake Jacobson, Lakewood CC, 85-81–166
David Snow, Saddle Rock GC, 86-81–167
Dennis Fields, Heritage at Westmoor, 84-84–168
Mike Portelance, Collindale GC, 80-88–168
Brian O’Hara, Lakewood CC, 87-81–168
Bob Rennick, Ironbridge GC, 86-82–168
Dan Grigsby, Todd Creek GC, 87-83–170
John Sostman, Meadows GC, 88-83–171
Scott Woodrum, Twin Peaks GC, 88-83–171
Paul Casey, Club at Rolling Hills, 82-89–171
Frank Wilkinson, Lincoln Park GC, 87-85–172
Bob Cloud, CommonGround GC, 83-89–172
Mark Inboden, Raccoon Creek GC, 82-90–172
Mark Breese, Indian Peaks GC, 84-88–172
Richard Kelly, Foothills GC, 87-87–174
Alton Marsh, Fossil Trace GC, 88-87–175
Rod Walters, Indian Tree GC, 88-92–180
Mark Lundquist, Fox Hollow GC, 101-92–193
David Delich, Broadmoor GC, 80-WD
Bob Schuler, Colorado Avidgolfer, 83-NC
Tad Willenbrock, Glenmoor CC, 80-WD
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC, 82-WD
Scott Fullmer, Colorado GC, 79-WD