Coloradans To The Forefront

Lehigh sisters, who just earned qualifying medalist honors for U.S. Women’s Four-Ball, shined during fall college golf; at least 3 Coloradans claimed individual Div. I tourney titles

By Gary Baines – 11/9/2023

Perhaps it was only appropriate that sisters Lauren and Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland followed up the fall portion of their college golf seasons by teaming up to take medalist honors in qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.

The Lehighs combined for a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 on Monday in Elk Grove, Calif., to finish first out of 31 teams, earning a berth in the national Four-Ball, set for May 11-15 in San Antonio.

It’s appropriate because the Lehighs both had a very noteworthy fall in college golf. They are among numerous golfers who grew up in Colorado and posted outstanding performances in NCAA Division I tournaments during the fall season, which just ended. (The spring portion of the schedule will begin in late January, February or early March, depending on the program.)

The Lehighs, each of whom won two Colorado state high school individual titles, both had moments in the limelight during the fall. Here’s a rundown of them and others who grew up in the state and shined at one point or another during the first two months of the college golf season:

— Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland, a sophomore at Fresno State, earned the first college title of her career, prevailing at the Timpangos Collegiate Invitational in Provo, Utah on Sept. 12: She set a program record — by four strokes — in finishing at 15 under par for three rounds (67-65-69). Lehigh later placed 12th at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic in Fort Collins.

— Lauren Lehigh of Loveland, a fifth-year senior at New Mexico who has advanced to the quarterfinals and the round of 16 at the last two U.S. Women’s Amateurs, recorded a team-leading 69.75 stroke average for the fall. In four tournaments, she finished third, seventh, ninth and 25th.

CSU’s Connor Jones.

— Connor Jones of Westminster, a fifth-year senior at Colorado State, won once in the fall — by nine strokes at CSU’s own Ram Masters Invitational, and posted three top-10 finishes in five tournaments. Jones, who made it to the round of 32 at the 2023 U.S. Amateur, sits No. 90 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

— Will Kates of Centennial, a sophomore at Ohio University, notched his first individual victory as a college golfer by tying for first at the  Virtues Intercollegiate Sept. 26 in Nashport, Ohio. It marked the program’s first individual title since 2018. The two-time Colorado 5A state high school individual champion went 69-69-69 en route to the victory.

Ohio’s Will Kates. (Photo: Ohio University)

— Eva Pett of Denver, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, had an outstanding fall, recording three top-six finishes in four  tournaments (second, fifth and sixth place). She owns a 71.08 stroke average going into the break.

— Ashley Kozłowski of Littleton, a senior at Purdue, owned the second-best stroke average for the Boilermakers in the fall (71.92). Kozlowski, who came to Purdue as a walk-on, finished runner-up in the Mary Fossum Invitational Sept. 18 in East Lansing, Mich. That was one of her three top-25 showings in the fall.

— Hunter Swanson of Denver, a sophomore at the University of Colorado, placed in the top six individually twice in the fall (fifth and sixth) and in the top 25 four times in five fall tournaments. Swanson, who posted 71.07 stroke average in the fall, was named the men’s Pac-12 Golfer of the Week in late October.

— Matthew Wilkinson, a sophomore at CSU, finished a college-career-best sixth at the Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational, rebounding from a first-round 76 with scores of 68-67. at Colorado National.

— Emma Bryant of Aurora, a junior at the University of Denver, cracked the top-10 for the first time as a college golfer by finishing ninth at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate, where she opened with a college-career-best 66.

— Among the other Coloradans who recorded top-10 individual finishes at D-I tournaments in the fall were TJ Shehee of Mead and the University of Northern Colorado (third place), TJ’s sister Timbre Shehee of Mead and UNC (third place), Gage Messingham of Arvada and UNC (fourth place), Ava Schroeder of Colorado Springs and the University of  South Dakota (fourth place) and Dillon Stewart of Fort Collins and Oklahoma State (10th place).

It also should be noted that Coloradans also had some strong finishes at NCAA Division II or III tournaments in the fall. That list includes former state high school champ Micah Stangebye of Kentucky State (two individual victories), Max Lange of Colorado School of Mines (won the Centennial Cup among four top-six finishes), and Jessica Mason of Pomona Pitzer (two top-four showings in four fall starts).

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 since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates