Numerous local tour players hope to parlay 2019 success into even bigger things in 2020
By Gary Baines – 1/9/2020
The opening tour events of 2020 — at least those featuring players with major Colorado connections — take place this weekend, as Denver native Mark Hubbard is competing in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii and former University of Colorado golfer Sebastian Heisele in the South African Open on the European Tour. And if this calendar year is anything like 2019, big things could be in store for local players.
Last year, competitors with significant Colorado ties won four times on major tours, with Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Brandt Jobe (pictured above) notching his second victory on PGA Tour Champions, Hubbard prevailing on the Korn Ferry Tour, former Fort Collins resident Tom Whitney on PGA Tour Latinoamerica, and Heisele on the European Challenge Tour.
Moving beyond victories, local golfers produced more than 60 top-10 finishes on major tours. Most notably at the very highest levels, Denver native Wyndham Clark had four on the PGA Tour, Hubbard two (including a runner-up), and former Colorado State University golfer Martin Laird three. Littleton native Jennifer Kupcho recorded three top fives on the LPGA Tour, including a second place in the Evian Championship, a women’s major. Meanwhile, Jobe notched five top-10s on PGA Tour Champions, including the aforementioned victory, and former Castle Pines resident Esteban Toledo posted one.
Looking ahead to 2020, here’s a look at the local players who will be competing on the major tours:
Season Opener — Has a wraparound season which began in September.
Denver native Wyndham Clark — The former longtime Coloradanhas recorded four top-10s in the last year, including a fifth place in July at the 3M Open.
Colorado resident David Duval — The former world No. 1 has yet to compete in a PGA Tour event this season.
Denver native Mark Hubbard — Since he returned to the PGA Tour in September, he’s posted two top-10s, including a PGA Tour career-best runner-up at the Houston Open in October. He won an event on the Korn Ferry Tour last February, the LEOM Suncoast Classic, one of his four top-10s on that circuit in 2019.
Littleton resident Jim Knous — The former Colorado School of Mines golfer hasn’t competed on the PGA Tour since June due to a right wrist injury, which was surgically repaired in August. He’s resumed practicing and has six events on a PGA Tour medical extension. Knous placed 13th twice last season.
Former CSU golfer Martin Laird — The Scotsman recorded three top-10 finishes from April through July last year.
Part-time Denver resident Kevin Stadler — The former Colorado Open champion has played in five of his allotted 23 events on his PGA Tour medical extension, the result of a broken left hand sustained in late 2014. He’s yet to make a PGA Tour cut in five starts this season.
Season Opener — Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, Jan. 16-19.
Former CU golfer Jenny Coleman — She returns to the LPGA Tour after competing there in 2017. She posted nine top-10s on the Symetra Tour in 2019, including six top-threes.
Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho — In her abbreviated rookie pro season, which began in late May, the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion notched three top-five LPGA finishes and earned $525,432 in prize money.
Former CU golfer Esther Lee — Lee will be a rookie on the LPGA Tour after recording 10 top-10s on the Symetra Tour in 2019, including five top-threes.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
Season Opener — Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, Jan. 16-18.
Parker resident Shane Bertsch — The longtime Coloradan earned his Champions card by winning the final stage of Q-school, but won’t be eligible to compete on the circuit until after turning 50 on March 30.
Niwot resident Gary Hallberg — The past winner on the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and Champions circuit played in a Champions career-low nine events in 2019.
Colorado Sports Hall of Famer and former CU golfer Hale Irwin — Irwin, who will turn 75 in June, competed in just three official Champions events in 2019. The last of his Champions-record 45 victories came in 2007.
Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Brandt Jobe — Jobe, who lived in Colorado for 29 years, won the second PGA Tour Champions event of his career at the Boeing Classic in August. Overall in 2019, he notched five top-10 finishes.
Colorado Sports Hall of Famer and former CU golfer Steve Jones — The now-61-year-old competed in 15 events in 2019, matching his Champions career high. He recorded one top-20 finish — a 17th place at the U.S. Senior Open.
Former Colorado resident Mike Reid — The now-65-year-old competed in a Champions-career-low two events in 2019.
Former Castle Pines resident Esteban Toledo — Toledo finished in the top-10 once in 2019, with a seventh place at the Sanford International in September.
KORN FERRY TOUR
Season Opener — The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, Jan. 12-15
Former CU golfer and Cheyenne native Josh Creel — Creelnotched three top-10 finishes in 2019, including a runner-up at the Utah Championship in June.
Former Louisville resident George Cunningham — The Boulder native recorded two top-10 showings on the Korn Ferry circuit in 2019, both coming in May.
Former CU golfer Jonathan Kaye — Kaye, winner of two PGA Tour events and two Colorado Opens, will turn 50 in August. He made just one KF start in 2019 — at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes, where he missed the cut.
Former Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders — For the first time since 2014, Arnold Palmer’s grandson won’t have status on the PGA Tour, where he posted one top-10 finish in 2019 but lost his card.
Denver resident Michael Schoolcraft — Schoolcraft will have conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour after advancing to the final stage of Q-school.
Former Golden resident Andrew Svoboda — Svoboda recorded one top-10 finish in 2019, placing second in July at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.
Former Fort Collins resident and Air Force Academy graduate Tom Whitney — Whitney placed second on the 2019 PGA Tour Latinoamerica money list after a season that feature one victory and six top-10 finishes. The former Coloradan was previously a regular on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 and ’18.
Season Opener — Has a wraparound season which began in late November.
Former CU golfer Sebastian Heisele — Heisele returns to the European Tour after being a regular in 2017 and ’18. In 2019 on the European Challenge Tour, Heisele won once and recorded four top-three finishes from September though November.
Former DU golfer Espen Kofstad — Kofstad lost his European Tour card after finishing 166th in the 2018-19 point standings. He’ll likely compete on the European Challenge Tour this year.
LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR
Season Opener — TBA, but LET Q-school will take place Jan. 15-18 (pre-qualifying) and Jan. 22-26 (final stage).
Former DU golfer Tonje Daffinrud — Daffinrud recorded two top-10 finishes in 2019, including a fourth place in the Ladies European Thailand Championship in June.
Former DU golfer Ellie Givens — Givens had a best LET finish of 12th in 2019.
PGA TOUR LATINOAMERICA
Season Opener — Estrella Del Mar Open in Mexico, March 5-8.
Q-School in Early 2020 — Jan. 7-10, Jan. 14-17 and Jan. 28-31.
Former CSU golfer Blake Cannon — Cannon notched a fifth-place showing in May, but it was his only made cut in six Latinoamerica starts.
Colorado resident and former DU golfer Chris Korte — Korte competed in 11 Latinoamerica events in 2019, with a 19th place being his top showing of the year.
PGA TOUR CHINA
Season Opener — TBA, but Q-school tournaments are taking place Jan. 7-10, Feb. 25-28 and March 3-6.
Former DU golfer Oscar Arvidsson — The Swede made two cuts in seven events in the 2019 season.
PGA TOUR CANADA
Season Opener — TBA, but Q-school tournaments are set for March 3-6, March 10-13, March 24-27, March 31-April 3, April 14-17 and April 28-May 1.
Former Coloradan Kyler Dunkle — The former CGA Player of the Year notched two top-five finishes in his rookie season of 2019, including a second at the Players Cup in August.
Denver resident and former DU golfer James Love — The Canadian played just twice on PGA Tour Canada in 2019, with a best finish of 12th.
Former CU golfer Jeremy Paul — Paul recorded two top-six finishes on the circuit in 2019.
Former CU golfer Yannik Paul — The twin of Jeremy Paul (above) chalked up three top-15 finishes in Canada in 2019, with a best showing of 11th.
Season Opener — TBA.
Former CU golfer Robyn Choi — Choi split her time between the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour in her rookie season in 2019, with an 18th place her best Symetra showing. She made three cuts in LPGA Tour events (best finish: 36th) but lost her card.
Former CU golfer Kristin Coleman — Coleman played a full schedule on the Symetra Tour in 2019, with a best finish of 18th place.
Former CU golfer Brittany Fan — Fan competed in four Symeta events in 2019, making one cut (65th place).
Former Coloradan Emily Gilbreth — Gilbreth failed to make the cut in any of the 13 Symetra events in which she competed in 2019.
Becca Huffer — The two-time CoBank Colorado Women’s Open champion was a regular on the LPGA Tour in 2019, playing in 15 events, making one cut and losing her card. One of her CWO victories came last year, though.