Lesson Learned

High school teacher Colin Prater becomes rare Colorado amateur to qualify for U.S. Open: It ‘means the world’; at another site, Denver native Mark Hubbard medalist and earns U.S. Open berth for second time

By Gary Baines – 6/3/2024

The list of Colorado amateurs who have qualified for the U.S. Open in the 21st century is very short. Most notably, heading that list would be Derek Tolan (2002) and Tom Glissmeyer (2003), who qualified for the championship as 16-year-olds, and then-36-year-old Steve Irwin (2011), whose dad Hale won the Open three times.

But on Monday night, there was an addition to the elite company as 29-year-old Colin Prater, a science teacher at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, made the grade. The two-time CGA Player of the Year punched his ticket by finishing second at a final qualifier at Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Ore., where just two U.S. Open berths were at stake. Prater recorded rounds of 68-73 to finish two strokes behind medalist Joey Vrzich of La Jolla, Calif.

With that, the former University of Colorado-Colorado Springs golfer will tee it up as part of the 156-man field at the U.S. Open, set for June 13-16 at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

This “means the world!!” Prater said in a text to Colorado Golf Journal on Monday night. “I’m so lucky and fortunate to have this opportunity.” 

Prater secured the second and final spot as pro Trevor Simsby of Carlsbad, Calif., missed the green on his 36th hole and made bogey to fall out of a tie with the Coloradan. 

That left Davis Bryant of Aurora, like Prater a former CGA Player of the Year, as one of the few players who could deny Prater a U.S. Open berth. Bryant, a former Colorado State University golfer who turned pro last year, tied Prater for the best morning round (a 4-under 68), but had to rally after starting round 2 double bogey-bogey, then making another bogey on 7. But three birdies on the first six holes of the back nine (with one bogey) left him one back of Prater coming down the stretch. But Bryant bogeyed No. 17, all but ending his chances of qualifying. Bryant ended up shooting 68-75 and missed the second spot by two.

Prater previously had to negotiate U.S. Open local qualifying, sharing medalist honors with a 67 at Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield on May 9.

Just last week, Prater competed in another USGA championship, advancing to the round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with Jimmy Makloski, a fellow Coloradan who was in U.S. Open final qualifying on Monday at a separate site. Prater also made match play at last August’s U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club.

Not only is Prater a two-time CGA Player of the Year, he’s also been named the CGA Mid-Amateur POY twice in the past four years. 

Interestingly, Prater and fellow Coloradan Wyndham Clark qualified at the same site (Columbine Country Club) for the 2016 U.S. Amateur. Clark, of course, will be the defending champ at the U.S. Open next week. 

“Making the match play (at the 2023 U.S. Amateur) kind of was a statement to myself that I can compete with some of the best players in the world,” Prater told late last year. “Obviously I’ve got a lot of room to grow and a lot of things to improve on, but that kind of gave me a glimpse of the potential to compete with some of the best players in the world.”

King of like on Monday.

Oregon was one of 10 final qualifying sites, at which 17 players with strong Colorado ties competed on Monday. Two other “locals” will advance to the U.S. Open.

Mark Hubbard had plenty to smile about on Monday. (file photo)

— Denver native Mark Hubbard is coming off by far his best showing in a major championships as he placed 26th at last month’s PGA Championship after being in the top five on the leaderboard through two rounds.

Now, judging by the way he performed in qualifying on Monday, Hubbard had no intention of skipping the next major.

The Colorado Academy graduate not only qualified for his second U.S. Open on Monday, but he earned medalist honors — out of 66 players — in the final qualifying tournament at Cherry Hill Club in Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada. 

Hubbard, who has made 217 PGA Tour starts in his career and is ranked No. 82 in the world, posted scores of 64-63 for a 15-under-par total in Canada, good for a three-stroke “victory” at one of 10 final qualifying sites in the U.S. and Canada on Monday. 

The 2007 Colorado junior golfer of the year, now 35 years old, made 16 birdies and just one bogey over 36 holes. His 63 in the afternoon was bogey-free.

When he tees it up at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, it will be Hubbard’s fifth major championship (three PGAs and one previous U.S. Open).

Hubbard has made the cut in all 16 PGA Tour events in which he’s played this year. He has two top-4 finishes to his credit this season.

— One-time Golden resident Andrew Svoboda, a former PGA Tour regular who’s now living in Oak Brook, Ill., finished third in Summit, N.J., where four U.S. Open berths were up for grabs. Svoboda is now the PGA head professional at Butler National Golf Club. A three-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, Svoboda tied for second in the recent national PGA Professional Championship.

It will be Svoboda’s fifth U.S. Open.

On Monday, Svoboda recorded rounds of 68-65 for a 9-under-par total, ending up two strokes behind the co-medalists. For the day, he carded 14 birdies — including five straight in one stretch — three bogeys and a double bogey.

As for “locals” who made a run at U.S. Open berths but fell short, besides Bryant that includes his former Colorado State teammate Connor Jones, from Westminster. With four spots on the line in Springfield, Ohio, the former CGA Player of the Year ended up 12th (67-69), missing a playoff by three strokes.



Pronghorn Resort (Nicklaus Course), Bend, Ore. (44 Players for 2 Spots)

Qualify for U.S. Open

2. Amateur Colin Prater of Colorado Springs, a former UCCS golfer 68-73–141

Failed to Qualify

Davis Bryant of Aurora, a former CSU golfer 68-75–143

Former DU golfer John Sand 75-74—149

Amateur and DU golfer Jake Dozer 80-78–158

Jack Castiglia of Lakewood, a former UNC golfer 81-78—159

Cade Kilkenny of Centennial 85-81—166

Cherry Hill Club, Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada (66 Players for 7 Spots)

Qualified for U.S. Open

1. Denver native Mark Hubbard 64-63—127

Failed to Qualify

Colorado resident and former CSU golfer Martin Laird 67-70—137

Canoe Brook Country Club (North & South Courses), Summit, N.J. (72 Players for 4 Spots)Qualified for U.S. Open

3. Former Golden resident Andy Svoboda 68-65–133

Springfield (Ohio) Country Club (64 Players for 4 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Amateur Connor Jones of Westminster, a former CSU golfer 67-69–136 

AJ Ott of Fort Collins, a former CSU golfer 71-73—144

Lake Merced Golf Club, Daly City, Calif. (84 Players for 4 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Amateur Jimmy Makloski of Pueblo, a former CSU golfer 70-72–142

Amateur Hunter Swanson of Denver, a CU golfer 71-76–147

Woodmont Country Club (North Course), Rockville, Md. (64 Players for 3 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Jason Preeo of Littleton 72-72–144

Duke University Golf Club, Durham, N.C. (84 Players for 7 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Jake Staiano of Englewood, a former CSU golfer 73-70–143

Ohio State University Golf Club (Scarlet Course) & Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club, Columbus, Ohio (68 Players for 5 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Derek Fribbs of Aurora, a former CU golfer 70-71–141

CU golfer Tucker Clark 70-75—145


Dallas (130 Players for 11 U.S. Open Spots)

Failed to Qualify

Ex-Air Force Academy golfer Tom Whitney 72-73—145

CO native Jim Knous, an ex-CO School of Mines golfer 78-76—154

Former CU golfer Jeremy Paul 79-WD

Ex-Air Force Academy golfer Kyle Westmoreland 68-DNF

Shiga Prefecture, Japan (34 Players for 3 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

T3. Scott Vincent 65-67–132 (lost in playoff; not one of alternates either)

Surrey, England (92 Players for 9 Spots)

Failed to Qualify

57. Colorado native Gunner Wiebe 73-72–145

Ex-CU golfer Yannik Paul 71-WD

Ex-DU golfer Espen Kofstad 74-WD

For results from all the U.S. Open final qualifiers, 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 since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates