With all due respect to Jeff Oneth of Colorado Golf Club -- who put on a nice display of golf in winning the CGA Senior Match Play, particularly down the stretch -- his performance wasn't the most impressive happening Thursday at The Fox Hill Club in Longmont.
And it also wasn't the afternoon hailstorm that left much of the course looking like it had just been subjected to a mid-winter snowfall.
No, the most impressive site was the lightning that hit a tree (below) near the 14th green, within an hour after the senior finalists had stopped play on that hole due to dangerous conditions. Not only did the lightning strike leave a big mark on the tree, but large shreds of the torn-off bark were spread across the fairway as far as 40 yards away from the base of the tree.
Oneth and his opponent in the final of the CGA Senior Match Play, Robert West of Cherry Creek Country Club, marveled at the lightning damage when they returned to the hole, 90 minutes after exiting, to determine who would be crowned champion.
That turned out to be Oneth, who made a 6-foot birdie at the formidable 18th hole to score a 2-up victory at Fox Hill.
"I'm thrilled," the Greenwood Village resident said. "I turned 50 in August. I played in the (2015) Senior Stroke Play at Colorado Golf Club and finished third in that, then finished second in the Senior Four-Ball (this month). This is my third CGA event and I've gone third, second, first.
"It's fantastic. I just love playing the game. I played in college, then didn't play a whole lot after that. I spent most of my time working and didn't play in any CGA events. But when my son decided he was getting into golf -- he's playing a little college golf now -- I promised him if he'd start playing in the events then I would too. I'm really enjoying it."
Though Oneth built a 4-up lead through eight holes Thursday afternoon, West's rally that spanned both sides of the lightning delay cut Oneth's lead to 1 up after 15 holes. But both players missed short birdie putts on 16 -- Oneth from 7 feet and West from 5 -- and Oneth almost holed a pitch on 17 and also halved that hole with a par. Then Oneth clinched his first CGA championship by trickling in his 6-footer for birdie on the 448-yard closing hole.
"I thought that I had (West) for a while, but all of a sudden he played very, very, very strong. It was a great match and he's a great competitor, but I hit a lot of good shots coming in," said Oneth (left).
"I was kind of proud of the fact that I did battle back," said West (below), a 58-year-old Denver resident. "I think that putt on 16 just got away from me. If I got it to even then I might have ... (But) I was happy coming out of the rain delay and parring all the holes. I parred all the holes on the back. I just struggled to make birdie (he didn't convert any in the final), which I needed to make. I just couldn't get the putter hot for birdie. That was the difference.
"But I won four matches to get to this point, and I feel pretty good about that."
As for Oneth, in his last three matches, he took down two former Senior Match Play winners -- Ray Makloski of Pueblo Country Club in 20 holes in the quarterfinals and Fox Hills' own Guy Mertz in 19 in Thursday morning's semifinals, before going the distance to prevail in the finals. Mertz won the first two holes of the semifinal match, but Oneth prevailed with a 19th-hole par while Mertz couldn't get up and down from the bunker.
"I had to beat two Fox Hills guys (Mertz and Greg Thiesen) -- they were ganging up on me," Oneth said with a smile. "It felt good. I didn't really have any easy matches. Everybody is a big competitor. Everybody wants to win and plays hard."
CGA Senior Match Play
At The Fox Hill Club in Longmont
ROUND OF 32
Jay Gomer, Indian Peaks GC def. David Delich, Broadmoor GC 1 up
Kary Kaltenbacher, Glenmoor CC def. Craig Kirscht, Buffalo Run 7 and 5
John Ingram, Hiwan GC def. Harry Johnson, Eagle Ranch GC 1 up
Gary Driber, Ridge at Castle Pines North def. Bruce Hogg, Patty Jewett GC 19 holes
Brian Woody, Ridge @ Castle Pines N def. Mark Inboden, Raccoon Creek 20 holes
Bob Chandler, Foothills GC def. Michael Larson, Boulder Country Club 4 and 3
Robert West, Cherry Creek CC def. Thomas Roos, Spring Valley GC 2 up
Owen Ellis, Flatirons GC def. Gary Fox, CC at Castle Pines 1 up
Guy Mertz, Fox Hill Club, the def. Jim Fucillo, Inverness GC 4 and 3
Bradley Becker, Plum Creek GC def. Richard Kelly, Foothills GC 19 holes
Jim Jagels, Hiwan GC def. Tom Sweetman, Omni Interlocken Resort 1 up
Robert Polk, Colorado GC def. Mark Armistead, Highlands Ranch GC 6 and 4
Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC def. Jeff Anderson, Perry Park CC 5 and 3
Robin Bradbury, Heritage at Westmoor def. Patrick Horvath, Murphy Creek GC 6 and 4
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC def. Greg A Thiesen, Fox Hill Club, the 4 and 3
Jeff Slupe, Highland Meadows GC def. Dennis Fields, Heritage at Westmoor 19 holes
ROUND OF 16
Kary Kaltenbacher, Glenmoor CC (16) def. Jay Gomer, Indian Peaks GC (32) 2 up
Gary Driber, Ridge at Castle Pines North (9) def. John Ingram, Hiwan GC (25) 1 up
Brian Woody, Ridge @ Castle Pines N (29) def. Bob Chandler, Foothills GC (13) 19 holes
Robert West, Cherry Creek CC (5) def. Owen Ellis, Flatirons GC (12) 19 holes
Guy Mertz, Fox Hill Club (2) def. Bradley Becker, Plum Creek GC (15) 6 and 4
Robert Polk, Colorado GC (10) def. Jim Jagels, Hiwan GC (7) 1 up
Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC (3) def. Robin Bradbury, Heritage at Westmoor (14) 7 and 5
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC (27) def. Jeff Slupe, Highland Meadows GC (22) 2 and 1
Kary Kaltenbacher, Glenmoor CC (16) def. Gary Driber, Ridge at Castle Pines North (9) 7 and 6
Robert West, Cherry Creek CC (5) def. Brian Woody, Ridge @ Castle Pines N (29) 2 and 1
Guy Mertz, Fox Hill Club (2) def. Robert Polk, Colorado GC (10) 3 and 2
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC (27) def. Ray Makloski, Pueblo CC (3) 20 holes
Robert West, Cherry Creek CC (5) def. Kary Kaltenbacher, Glenmoor CC (16), 1 up
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC (27) def. Guy Mertz, Fox Hill Club (2), 19 holes
Jeff Oneth, Colorado GC (27) def. Robert West, Cherry Creek CC (5), 2 up