All-Star Cast Set for U.S. Amateur Alumni Day
Skills Challenge at CommonGround will feature some of state's best
by Gary Baines
Among them, they've won a couple of Colorado Opens, a Nationwide Tour event, eight CGA Stroke or Match Play Championships and seven state high school titles, and they've competed in two U.S. Opens.
In short, they've got some serious golf skills.
And the skills of those participating golfers will be on display July 17 when the CGA holds its U.S. Amateur Alumni Day Skills Challenge and related activities at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora. CommonGround, which the CGA and CWGA own and operate, will be the second course for the stroke-play portion of this year's U.S. Amateur. Cherry Hills Country Club is the host club for arguably the world's top amateur championship, which is set for Aug. 13-19.
The public is invited to attend the July 17 festivities -- free of charge -- from noon to 2 p.m., and youngsters are especially encouraged to come. In fact, any adult who brings kids will receive a ticket to the U.S. Amateur.
Free lunches, courtesy of King Soopers, will be given to kids (17 and under) at noon, and Imperial Headwear will provide them a U.S. Amateur hat and pen for autographs. In addition, the youngsters will be eligible for prize drawings.
One of the highlights of the day will be a Skills Challenge exhibition put on by Coloradans who have qualified for the U.S. Amateur in years past. Eight golfers who fall into that category have indicated they plan to participate in the Skills Challenge, which begins at 1 p.m. on July 17.
That's where all of the earlier-mentioned golf credentials come in.
Among those expected to demonstrate their skills is Steve Ziegler (pictured above), who not only qualified for the 2009 U.S. Amateur, but made it to the quarterfinals before losing in 21 holes to the eventual champion. Barring changes to the July 17 lineup, joining him will be players ranging in age from teenager to 40-something: Wyndham Clark, Gunner Wiebe, Scott Petersen, Tom Glissmeyer, Ben Portie, and brothers Zen and Zahkai Brown.
Here's a brief rundown of some of the top golf accomplishments for each expected participant:
-- Wyndham Clark: Won the 2010 CGA Stroke Play Championship at age 16, becoming the youngest winner of that event since 1971. The Oklahoma State-bound golfer also claimed two 4A state high school titles and was recently named the Denver Athletic Club's male high school student-athlete of the year. He's qualified for the U.S. Amateur each of the last two years.
-- Gunner Wiebe: Won the CGA Match Play title in 2010, the same year he placed second in the HealthOne Colorado Open, the best finish by an amateur in that event since 1997. He was named the CGA's Player of the Year that season. The son of Champions Tour regular Mark Wiebe, Gunner competed in the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Amateur, making it to match play in 2010.
-- Scott Petersen: In 2000, he won both the Colorado Open and the Nationwide Tour's Inland Empire Open. The year before, he claimed the title in the Canadian PGA Championship. In the early 1990s, Petersen won two CGA Stroke Play Championships and two Division I college tournaments while playing for the University of Colorado. He was medalist in U.S. Amateur qualifying in both 1990 and '92.
-- Tom Glissmeyer: Qualified for the 2003 U.S. Open as a 16-year-old, a year after fellow Coloradan Derek Tolan managed a similar feat. Glissmeyer won two 4A state high school titles and finished third individually at the 2009 NCAA Championships while competing for the University of Southern California.
-- Ben Portie: Was the CGA Player of the Year in 2001, a year before qualifying for the U.S. Open. The former University of Colorado golfer won the Colorado Open last summer and the Enstrom's Rocky Mountain Open in 2010.
-- Zen Brown: Won the CGA Match Play title in 2007. The following year, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur along with his brother Zahkai.
-- Zahkai Brown: Won the 2011 CGA Stroke Play en route to being named the association's Player of the Year. The former 5A state high school champion qualified for the 2008 U.S. Amateur at the same site as older brother Zen. He also earned a spot in the 2011 U.S. Am, where he advanced to match play. Brown won two individual college titles while at Colorado State University.
-- Steve Ziegler: Had one of the best performances ever by a Coloradan at the U.S. Amateur, making it to the final eight in 2009 before losing on the third extra hole of his quarterfinal match to Byeong-Hun An, who went on to win the national title. Earlier that year, Ziegler won the CGA Match and Stroke Play Championships, becoming the first person to sweep the titles in the same calendar year since 1985. (As you might imagine, he was named CGA Player of the Year in 2009.) The two-time 5A state high school champ also qualified for the 2008 U.S. Amateur.
All of the attending U.S. Amateur "alumni" from Colorado will be presented Alumni Day commemorative medals, and they'll be available to sign autographs after the Skills Challenge.
To access a PDF of a CGA promotional flier on the U.S. Amateur Alumni Day, CLICK HERE.