3-peat by Micah Rudosky of Cortez gives him a record-tying 4 victories in Colorado PGA Professional Championship; Ben Lanting 2nd in the event for 3rd straight year
By Gary Baines – 9/20/2023
Like a fine wine, Micah Rudosky seems to get better with age. At least that’s the case regarding his participation in the Colorado PGA Professional Championship.
The PGA head professional at Conquistador Golf Course in the Four Corners area of Colorado for the last 26 years, Rudosky tied a record by winning the Section title for the fourth time. And three of those four have come since he turned 50 years old.
Plus, that wasn’t the only record Rudosky tied on Wednesday at River Valley Ranch Golf Course in Carbondale. The 53-year-old also captured his third consecutive CPGA Professional Championship, joining Ron Vlosich (1991-93), Ken Krieger (1996-98) and Doug Rohrbaugh (2013-15) in accomplishing three-peats.
Having also won the title in 2001, Rudosky becomes the fourth player to win the Section’s top tournament four times. And, for the record, all three of the other folks who have managed the feat are in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame — Fred Wampler (1966, ’68, ’73 and ’74), Jack Sommers (1980, ’82, ’88 and ’95) and Vlosich (1991, ’92, ’93 and 2019).
Some elite company indeed.
“That’s pretty awesome,” Rudosky said. “To do it as a senior now and to get the wins … It’s amazing when you look at the names on that trophy. Ronny Vlosich said it — there’s only a few of us who have won it three in a row — so it’s pretty special.
“You look at it, and our years (of regularly being in contention at the event) are coming to an end. There’s probably not many more of these — and I realize that. I get a little choked up knowing that.”
This time around, Rudosky had to rally for the title on a course he was playing for the first time. He lost his lead after nine holes on Wednesday as 2022 national Senior PGA Professional Champion Matt Schalk from Colorado National Golf Club played his first 11 holes in 4 under. But Rudosky overtook Schalk, then pulled away, when Schalk bogeyed the 12th, 15th and 18th holes and Rudosky birdied Nos. 16 and 17 with putts of 27 and 10 feet, respectively.
“I felt pretty good, but that tee shot on 18 isn’t the most comfortable,” Rudosky said. “I didn’t feel that comfortable about (winning) until I knocked that tee ball in the fairway. I felt like I could handle it from there.”
At the end of the day, Rudosky recorded a two-stroke victory by finishing at 11 under par overall. He went 67-69-69, earning $14,000 in the process.
“I just played pretty solid for the most part,” he said. “I kept the ball in play, and those guys had to chase me today, though (Schalk) caught me. We were all actually playing some pretty good golf.”
With the 53-year-old Rudosky winning on Wednesday, it continued a trend of success for senior (50-and-older) players in the Section championship. It was the ninth time in the last 11 championships that a senior golfer has claimed the title, with only Geoff Keffer (2016 and ’20) interrupting the run. Here are the 50-year-old-plus players who have won the Section’s overall championship since 2013: Rohrbaugh (2013, ’14 and ’15); John Ogden (2017); Patrick Reidy (2018); Vlosich (2019); and Rudosky (2021, ’22 and ’23).
“You’ve got Matt Schalk winning the (national senior championship). That guy is so dang tough. But I don’t know why (the domination by the seniors in this event) is happening,” Rudosky said. “We play the courses long enough — this one was round 7,200 (yards). So I can’t put a finger on how we’re competing with the young guys.”
Each year of his three-peat, Rudosky has had the same runner-up: Ben Lanting of Bear Creek Golf Club, a 30-year-old who claimed second place this time by making birdie on his final two holes.
“It’s just a matter of time for him,” Rudosky said of Lanting. “He’s tough and he’s going to get himself a handful of (titles). I certainly feel like he has that potential and the ability.”
To the winner goes the spoils. (Photo: Colorado PGA)
Meanwhile, the top nine finishers on Wednesday qualified for the 2024 national PGA Professional Championship, set for April 28-May 1 in Frisco, Texas. Among those making the grade were Rudosky, Lanting, Schalk, Keffer, Tyler Parsloe, Bill Hancock, Joe Carlton, Dan Sniffin and Caine Fitzgerald.
Rudosky, who took a two-stroke lead into the final round, ended up two strokes ahead of runner-up Lanting, who carded a 68 on Wednesday despite losing a ball on the par-5 second hole and making a bogey. Just last week, Lanting advanced from pre-qualifying to the first stage of PGA Tour Q-school.
But it was Schalk who was Rudosky’s top challenger much of the day. The winner of the last two Colorado Senior PGA Professional Championships — and a runner-up at last month’s Inspirato Colorado Senior Open — was a stroke ahead of Rudosky through 11 holes on Wednesday. But Schalk lost five strokes to him in the final seven holes. Schalk closed with a 71 to finish third at 7 under par,
Keffer, the two-time champ, ended up a distant fourth at even par after a final-round 73.
As for the champion, “My game has been up and down this year,” Rudosky said. “I’ve had some good tournaments and I’ve had some disappointments with some I really wanted to play well in. But I always look forward to this golf tournament here — I’ve played in a lot of them — and it’s our major event of the season for the club professionals in the Colorado Section. It’s definitely one of those I worked at. I had a couple of tournaments under my belt prior to getting here, which definitely helps.
“My game, I wouldn’t call it in really good shape, but I had some competitive rounds under my belt. If I can feel comfortable standing up on the tee and calm my nerves and have those reps, that really made a difference for me this week.”
For all the scores from River Valley Ranch, CLICK HERE.
About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com