The inaugural Paintbrush Invitational, which concluded on Tuesday at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, featured a broad swath of local highlights:
-- First and foremost, there was senior Petter Mikalsen, from the host University of Denver squad, claiming his first individual college title. Moreover, he shot an 8-under-par 64 -- despite a double bogey -- in round 2 to set a course record, besting the previous mark of 65 that David Frost carded at the 2010 Senior PGA Championship. All told, Mikalsen finished at 13-under-par 203, good for a three-stroke victory.
"Definitely I wanted to win before I finished (his college career)," said the native of Norway. "I thought it would come a little earlier. I had a pretty good season my sophomore year with a couple of second places. I struggled a little last year but I had a good summer. Everything just comes together right now, so that's good."
Mikalsen gave Erik Billinger his first individual victory in his two-plus seasons as DU men's head coach. (The two are pictured together above.)
"I couldn't be more proud of Petter because two years ago, he was one of the best players in the country, without a doubt," Billinger said. "Last year he had some adversity. To overcome that adversity and see him get his game back where he belongs is simply the result of a lot of hard work. He works harder than anybody I've seen. I'm just really happy for him."
-- Wyndham Clark (left) of Highlands Ranch, the 2010 CGA Amateur champion and five-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, competed in Colorado for the first time as a college player, and the University of Oregon fifth-year senior tied for third place as rounds of 72-68-70 left him at 6-under 210. That's the 12th top-six finish of his college career, though he's still looking for his first individual victory. Since transferring from Oklahoma State to defending national champion Oregon for his final season, Clark has placed second -- for the fifth time as a collegian -- and third in two tournaments.
"It felt like I didn't play very well, but it was a fun tournament," said the former Big 12 Player of the Year. "I really enjoyed it. It's great being home and I love the course. I hadn't played at home and don't usually get to play in front of some of my friends and family, so that was really nice. And it's great to come to a course that I know and I love.
"But this week I'm pretty frustrated because I didn't play as well (as he did last week in finishing second). And because I know the course, I thought I left a lot of shots out there. I definitely thought this could be one of my first wins just because I knew the course and if I brought the game I did last week, I knew I had a really good chance. I didn't, but looking back at it, two top-fives is a very solid start (to the season)."
Interestingly, Clark was paired each round at Colorado Golf Club with a player from Oklahoma State, his old school.
"I'm friends with all the guys and coaches, so that didn't change at all, but it definitely was a little different for me," he said. "It was enjoyable too."
-- Another senior who likewise won two state high school titles in Colorado, the University of Colorado's Ethan Freeman (left), has also been a regular in the top 10 this season. On Tuesday, he finished sixth at the Paintbrush, marking his fourth top-seven showing so far this season.
"I feel like I've played really well this year," said Freeman, who went 74-69-68--211 at Colorado Golf Club. "I've put a lot of work into it. This is my senior year, I knew we had a good team. We want to make the (NCAA Finals); CU hasn't done that in a while. It's really nice to see the hard work pay off."
-- As for CU's team as a whole, it's had a strong start to the season, which is reflected by its No. 19 national ranking. Against a field which featured three teams ranked in the top 15 in the nation, the Buffs finished second at Colorado Golf Club, nine strokes behind third-ranked Oklahoma State. That means in its five tournaments so far this season, CU has two wins (one in a three-team event), a second, a third and a fifth.
"The last 40 holes or so of the (Paintbrush) tournament we played really well," head coach Roy Edwards said. "That's typical of our guys; even if they get off to a bad start they don't bag it. That's always a good thing.
"This is a great golf course and a really strong field. It's always good to beat a lot of those teams. We feel pretty happy about it. You always want to win, but if you don't, you want to finish second or third."
Individually, CU's twins, Jeremy and Yannik Paul, joined Freeman in posting top-10 individual finishes, with Jeremy placing seventh at 212 and Yannik coming in ninth at 213.
"We felt like coming into this year we had a really good team," Freeman said. "It's been really nice to show the country that our early ranking isn't just because of (winning) our home tournament or whatnot. It's nice to play well here against good teams."
As for the other Colorado-based schools, host DU finished seventh in the 15-team field, 30 strokes behind champion Oklahoma State, while Northern Colorado was eighth, Colorado State 11th, and Air Force 15th.
The oddity of Tuesday's final round came from Wyoming's Drew McCullough, who double eagled the formidable par-5 16th hole at Colorado Golf Club in the final round en route to a 71.
It wasn't the first time McCullough has done something similar of note during a college tournament in Colorado. He made a hole-in-one during the 2014 Ram Masters Invitational at Fort Collins Country Club.
Oct. 10-11, 2016 (final) at Par-72 Colorado GC in Parker
2. (out of 15 teams) Colorado 293-283-283--859
6. Ethan Freeman 74-69-68--211
7. Jeremy Paul 72-71-69--212
9. Yannik Paul 74-68-71--213
25. Victor Bjorlow (individual) 73-70-77--220
34. Spencer Painton 73-75-75--223
84. Morten Toft Hansen 82-81-84--247
7. Denver 292-291-297--880
1. Petter Mikalsen 70-64-69--203
12. Isaac Petersilie (individual) 73-73-68--214
16. Chris Korte 72-73-71--216
51. Michael Boylan (individual) 80-70-77--227
63. Roy Kang 76-75-79--230
69. Eric Hagen 74-81-78--233
77. Troy Dangler (individual) 83-76-78--237
80. Jake Kelley 76-79-83--238
86. Johan Werge (individual) 80-87-81--248
8. Northern Colorado 298-288-299--885
23. Coby Welch 73-72-74--219
25. Andrew Romano 71-76-73--220
31. Joshua Matz 75-71-75--221
41. Sam Marley 79-69-77--225
69. Phillip Lee (individual) 80-76-77--233
82. Li Chen 82-77-83--242
11. Colorado State 289-299-308--896
25. Jimmy Makloski (individual) 72-73-75--220
31. Jake Staiano 78-74-69--221
34. Blake Cannon 72-75-76--223
44. Max Oelfke 69-74-83--226
51. Colton Yates 71-76-80--227
81. AJ Ott 77-79-84--240
15. Air Force Academy 308-303-311--922
59. Sunwoo Choi 79-74-76--229
59. Dane Hankamer 77-74-78--229
63. Brenden Bone 77-74-79--230
73. Tate Tatom 75-81-78--234
75. Turner Howe (individual) 82-76-77--235
87. Todd Millard 87-85-85--257
3. Coloradan Wyndham Clark, Oregon 72-68-70--210
63. Coloradan Glenn Workman, Wyoming 71-77-82--230