Fulfilling Victory

Steve Ivan overcomes Jon Lindstrom, one of the world’s top-ranked senior amateurs, to win his second CGA Senior Match Play; Colorado Springs resident has made the title match in the event 5 times since 2018

By Gary Baines – 6/28/2024

WINDSOR — Steve Ivan isn’t one to suppress his emotions when he wins the CGA Senior Match Play. And why should he? After all, he very well knows both the highs and the lows of competing for the trophy, having previously been the tournament runner-up three times as well as the champion.

When the golfer from Patty Jewett GC in Colorado Springs won the event in 2020, rallying to defeat Robert Polk in 20 holes, he broke down after clinching the victory, which came six days after his mom passed away.

Then on Friday, when the 62-year-old former University of Colorado golfer claimed the Senior Match Play title for a second time, he again became emotional and took some time to take in the moment — albeit for a far different reason.

Ivan had just defeated defending champion Jon Lindstrom of Lakewood Country Club, the No. 8-ranked amateur in the world over the age of 55, 2 up in the title match of the 55th annual event, held at RainDance National. 

Ivan became emotional after his impressive victory on Friday.

“For me to be in the same arena as Jon — him being (eighth) in the world — is a dream for me,” Ivan said as he accepted the trophy on Friday, later adding, “His pedigree is just phenomenal. It was phenomenal before he became a senior. For me to win, it’s hard for me to put that into words. The guy is so good and he’s so even-keeled. For me to beat him, that is a huge accomplishment.”

Ivan never trailed on Friday, but he wasn’t ever more than 1 up until Lindstrom conceded an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 18 after missing his own birdie try from slightly further out. Ivan had taken the lead for good on No. 16, where he drained a ticklish 6-foot downhill birdie putt after Lindstrom just missed an 8-foot birdie attempt.

Though defeating a player of Lindstrom’s caliber was the main reason Ivan gave for his emotional response to winning on Friday, looking back on the week he had plenty of other reasons to think this was a championship he won’t soon forget:

Ivan didn’t make many mistakes on Friday, but went over the green on No. 3 during the title match, carding a bogey.

— Ivan’s back has been giving him fits since last fall, and it was particularly problematic in the weeks leading up to the Senior Match play. But that didn’t stop him from earning the trophy.

“I don’t know if I’ll have to have surgery, but there’s days I can’t even walk,” Ivan said. “Yesterday I was really hurting bad. The day before, it was a marathon; we didn’t get done until about 8 o’clock. My back was just screaming at me. But it helped I didn’t have to drive back and forth from the Springs (he stayed nearby with fellow competitor Jeff Slupe). And today was OK.

“I worked hard the last two weeks to get my back able to play it. It’s been really bad since October. I started seeing Brad Ott — (touring pro) AJ Ott’s dad — who’s a (physical therapy) guy. He’s helped me a bunch. I’m not out of the woods yet, but at least I’m able to play.”

Defending champion Jon Lindstrom couldn’t get many putts to fall on Friday.

— Ivan took down some big guns en route to the title, including Colorado Golf Hall of Famer — and four-time CGA Match Play champion — Mark Crabtree, a fellow former CU golfer (3 and 2 in the round of 16); 2022 CGA Senior Amateur champ Victor Minovich (4 and 2 in the semifinals); and Lindstrom, who swept the CGA senior majors last year and has won a dozen CGA championships overall. Lindstrom also owns victories in the Golfweek Senior Division National Championship (2024) and the Trans-Miss Senior Championship (2023).

— In Thursday’s semifinal, Ivan used the third hole-in-one of his competitive career to overcome Minovich. After the latter had narrowed Ivan’s lead to 2 up on the previous hole, and hit his own tee shot to 5 feet on No. 14, Ivan holed out his 202-yard tee shot with a 6-iron there.

“That was a big momentum boost,” Ivan said. “He had just won 13. He was so gracious; that was the coolest thing. For him to be like that in the heat of the moment was neat.”

— Ivan became the 10th player to win the CGA Senior Match Play two or more times. That list is led by John Olive, Larry Eaton, Ed Nosewicz Sr., and Bert Welz, with four titles each.

— This isn’t a biggy, but probably is notable from a coincidental standpoint: Ivan’s two Senior Match Play titles both came in Windsor, just a few miles apart as his 2020 win took place at Highland Meadows Golf Course.

In that one, Ivan defeated the formidable Robert Polk in a final that lasted 20 holes. Polk returned the favor the next year, beating Ivan 1 up in that year’s title match. In all, Ivan has been in the Senior Match Play final in 2018, ’19, ’20, ’21 and ’24. 

“When I beat Robert, his pedigree is (also) phenomenal,” Ivan said. “Those two guys (Polk and Lindstrom) deserve to be in the (Colorado Golf) Hall of Fame. For me to beat Robert and Jon, it means an awful lot. I don’t know if this one means any more (than it did in 2020). I just know I’ve had a lot of adversity over the last six months with my back. For me to overcome that obstacle is a huge thing.”

Ivan earned his fifth CGA championship title on Friday.

On a formidable RainDance layout that was set up at 7,260 yards, Ivan was solid throughout in the final. With the concession on 18, he was 1 under par for Friday’s round. 

“Steve played really well,” the 56-year-old Lindstrom said. “I knew making one birdie all day (on No. 6) wasn’t going to cut it. I thought I hit it really well. I had a fair my share of birdie chances. I just didn’t make anything. 

“I think it was more the reads (than putting issues per se). I hit my lines. I just had a hard time getting the reads right. The last one (on 18) was maybe a bad putt. The rest of them, I was hitting them right where I wanted to.”

Besides being a tough test, RainDance National is picturesque.

Though Lindstrom never led on Friday, he and Ivan were tied for more than half of the match. That includes after No. 13, where Ivan made bogey after losing his ball on a tee shot that strayed left into the native grass. 

The two remained tied until the par-5 16th, where both players were just short of the green in two. After Ivan’s chip ran six feet above the hole, Lindstrom left his 8 feet from the cup, short and right.

“I didn’t carry it far enough,” Lindstrom said. “If it carries another two feet, it’s up there tight. I knew that putt he had (was) downhill, so I was a little shy of going long.”

Lindstrom’s near-miss on 16, followed by Ivan’s short birdie, led to the latter taking the lead for good.

Ivan went ahead for good in the match when Lindstrom just missed his birdie try and Ivan made his dead center.

“All you’ve got to do is get it started,” Ivan said of his putt on 16. “It’s going to break in there. I remember (TV analyst) Gary Koch or somebody like that saying, ‘The easiest putt to make is a little downhiller because you’ve just got to get it started.’ And it was good speed and right in the center.”

After both players parred 17, Ivan went to 18 1 up on Lindstrom. The defending champion drove it about 50 yards further on the par-5, and was about 75 yards ahead of his opponent after their second shots. Ivan’s 120-yard pitching wedge ended up about 18 feet short of the flag, then Lindstrom’s low-flighted pitch spun left, leaving his ball a little outside of Ivan’s. After Lindstrom missed his birdie try, he conceded Ivan’s birdie, believing the Colorado Springs native who had been so solid all day with his putter was not going to three-putt.

“I was surprised he gave me that putt on the last hole, but I’ll take it,” Ivan said after his fifth CGA championship victory (2 Senior Match Plays, 2 Senior Amateurs and the 1979 Junior Match Play).

Ivan had reason to smile on Friday.

“The other matches (earlier in the CGA Senior Amateur), it was more about not making mistakes; par won a bunch of holes for me,” Lindstrom said. “The downside of that is I didn’t make a lot of birdies. I made a lot of pars. Today I knew I had to make at least three or four (birdies) probably to get it done because Steve is so solid.”

Both Ivan and Lindstrom will be headed to England next week for the British Senior Amateur, which is set for July 9-12 in Saunton. Lindstrom finished ninth in the event last year, while it will be Ivan’s first apperance in the championship as he received an invitation by virtue of advancing to the round of 32 at last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur.

“I gained a lot of confidence by going to the U.S. Senior Am last year and winning that (round of 64) match,” Ivan said. 

“This (win) is going to put me in a good frame of mind (before going overseas). I know when I go over there I’m going to see something I’ve never seen before (golf-wise). I have no idea where to hit it. It’s like that tee shot on 18 today; that’s what I’m going to see the whole time. So this is a good thing to get me ready for it.”

CGA Senior Match Play Results

At RainDance National in Windsor


Jon Lindstrom, Lakewood CC, def. Martin Prazak, CommonGround GC, 2 and 1

Scott Sullivan, Redlands Mesa GC, def. John Hornbeck, Central Rockies e-Club, 5 and 4

Victor Minovich, Foothills GC, def Dean Siskowski, Collindale GC, 3 and 2

Steve Ivan, Patty Jewett GC, def. Danny Thompson, Sunset GC, 7 and 6


Jon Lindstrom, Lakewood CC, def. Scott Sullivan, Redlands Mesa GC, 6 and 5

Steve Ivan, Patty Jewett GC, def. Victor Minovich, Foothills GC, 4 and 2


Steve Ivan, Patty Jewett GC, def. Jon Lindstrom, Lakewood CC, 2 up

For all the results from RainDance National, CLICK HERE.

Humans weren’t the only spectators during Friday’s final at RainDance.

About the Writer/Photographer: 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. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates