At 39, 2015 champ Nick Nosewicz will face UNC’s TJ Shehee for title in 123rd CGA Match Play; former CU golfer Malak Bouraeda will square off with Thai teenager Pimpisa Rubrong in final for 108th CGA Women’s Match Play
By Gary Baines – 6/15/2023
Nick Nosewicz ran the competitive gauntlet on Thursday, and emerged from the other side still in the running for his second CGA Match Play title.
By beating 2021 CGA Player of the Year Chris Thayer in 20 holes in the quarterfinals of the 123rd Match Play, then 2020 POY Colin Prater of Cherokee Ridge Golf Course 2 up in the semifinals, Nosewicz has the opportunity to accomplish something very notable on Friday. After all, it’s very rare that a guy 39 years old — or older — captures a state Match Play title that traditionally has been dominated by college golfers, or at least players in their 20s.
“You can’t dream up playing two better players” than I did on Thursday, said Nosewicz, who plays out of Valley Country Club. “You’ve got Chris Thayer and Colin Prater. I wish I could just relive this day over and over and keep playing — but maybe play a little bit better.”
After taking down two outstanding mid-amateurs on Thursday, in Friday’s scheduled 36-hole final at Columbine Country Club, Nosewicz will face a local college golfer, 22-year-old TJ Shehee from Boulder Country Club and the University of Northern Colorado golf team.
And Friday’s CGA Women’s Match Play final — also a two-round affair at Columbine — will feature two other young ‘uns: 22-year-old Malak Bouraeda, who just wrapped up her college career at the University of Colorado, and 16-year-old Pimpisa Rubrong of Thailand.
Nosewicz, who will turn 40 in mid-September, needed a 20th-hole birdie to overcome Thayer in Thursday morning’s quarterfinals. (It was the second playoff this week for Nosewicz, who required five extra holes to win his pod.) Then in the afternoon semifinals, he never trailed, but won the last two holes — with a 1-foot birdie and a par — to score a 2-up victory over Prater, who’s won two CGA Amateurs and one Match Play.
It’s the first time Nosewicz has advanced past the quarterfinals since winning his Match Play title in 2015. After six mid-am golfers made the quarterfinals this week, Nosewicz is the last 25-and-older left in the running for the 2023 title.
“It’s nice to be in the final,” he said. “My wife said, ‘I didn’t ever think I’d see you in the finals again.’ Every year I feel like I’ve got a chance in match play. I’m glad I get to play more. Columbine is awesome. One more day. Buckle in and see what happens with TJ.”
Nosewicz, a co-owner of Lenny’s Golf, attributes his strong play, at least in part, to speed training he did in the offseason to gain length on the course.
“It’s really paid off,” he said. “I’m hitting it as far, if not further than everyone. I played Lucas Howell, who beat me like a drum last year — and he was like 30 yards by me (in 2022). So I started doing some speed training in the offseason. When I got paired with him, he said, ‘What are you doing? You’re hitting it so far.’ It was cool.
“I’d like to put my hands on the trophy again. It would be nice to etch it again. I’m always trying to chase that (CGA) Player of the Year. I feel like if I get Player of the Year I might retire and just sell clubs for a living. But (winning the Match Play) means the same for everyone. It’s why we’re out playing. We want to win championships. We want to win trophies.”
TJ Shehee will play the Match Play final at the same course where he qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur.
As for Shehee, some of the biggest moments of his golf career have come at Columbine. Two years ago, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur at the course. And now, after a run at CommonGround Golf Course, then at Columbine, he’s in the final of the oldest continuously held Colorado state golf championship.
“I do have good mojo at this golf course,” said Shehee, son of a PGA head professional at Boulder Country Club (Terra) and a PGA director of instruction at Ute Creek Golf Course (Tray). “It’s a lot easier for me now than it was (two years ago) because I’m hitting it a lot further now. I’m 20 pounds heavier and I can fly it over all the bunkers now that I couldn’t fly it over last time. I do like this golf course a lot. I love the greens. The greens are really pure. The whole golf course is great.”
On Thursday, after beating Colorado State’s Gavin Hagstrom 3 and 1 in the quarterfinals, Shehee took down two-time CGA Match Play runner-up Parker Edens, the men’s golf head coach at South Dakota State, in the semis, 2 up. Shehee went ahead for good with a 30-foot birdie on No. 15, then closed it out on 18 when he hit his approach to 8 feet and Edens went fairway bunker to greenside bunker and couldn’t hole his sand shot to extend the match.
“I’m very proud of myself for how I’ve handled myself this week so far,” said Shehee, who is 6-0 at the 2023 Match Play. “Regardless of how I play tomorrow, I’ve been living like a champion for the past six months. I’ve been on a really good routine. So I’m proud of myself regardless. I’ve (heard this) good quote: ‘Trophies are small gifts from your work ethic and what you do every single day.’ Hopefully the tables turn my way tomorrow, but I’m going to be proud of myself no matter what.”
CU golfer Malak Bouraeda played in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open.
— Bouraeda, Rubrong Set for Women’s Final: A year ago this month, CU golfer Malak Bouraeda played in the biggest tournament of her life after qualifying in Colorado for the U.S. Women’s Open. Four months after that high, she hit a career low as she underwent surgery to remove her gall bladder that nearly ruptured, putting a major damper on her final season in Boulder.
“I had surgery back in October. I was pretty sick coming back from the World Amateur Team Championship (competing for Morocco) last year,” Bouraeda said. “I was really sick when I came back and stayed sick for like two months. I had lost a significant amount of weight so I had to learn how to swing again and get power back — and stuff like that. That took a lot out of my college (season) and confidence for sure. But I’m slowly on the up and up.”
Indeed, after a final college season in which she played just two tournaments, Bouraeda has worked with former Colorado Open champion Ben Portie to get back into form. And that’s led to five straight wins at the Women’s Match Play, including one in the quarterfinals Thursday against Marilyn Hardy of Dos Rios Golf Club, 2 and 1, and then a 5-and-4 victory in the semis against Sloane Bayer, a golfer at Grand Canyon University in Arizona.
So now Bouraeda will try to become the second CU golfer in the last four years to capture the Women’s Match Play title, joining former teammate Kirsty Hodgkins (2020).
“Kirsty and I have a really great relationship and she was always like an older sister to me,” Bouraeda said. “So I’m hoping to follow in her footsteps a little bit starting tomorrow. That would be amazing. I’d actually seen her name in my yardage book and sent her a picture. Hopefully the good mojo continues for the both of us.”
Bouraeda, who tentatively plans to turn pro late this year after competing once more for Morocco as the World Amateur Team Championships (she was born and raised in the U.S., but her father came from Morocco), is competing in the Women’s Match Play for the first time after living in Boulder for the last five years.
“It’s amazing” to make the final, she said. “It’s the first time I’ve actually played this event, so I’m really excited. I also had never played CommonGround or Columbine prior to this week so I kind of went in a little blind earlier this morning. But I survived, which is nice. It’s great and rewarding to get to this point. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Pimpisa Rubrong beat a Thai countrywoman to reach Friday’s final.
In Friday’s final, Bouraeda will face one of two junior golfers from Thailand who made the women’s semifinals. In fact, Pimpisa Rubrong defeated friend and countrywoman Tarapath Panya 2 and 1 to advance to the final.
Rubrong traveled from Thailand with Panya and they’ll play various events in the U.S. over the next month, including next week’s U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifying at the Country Club of Colorado.
“This is my first time in Colorado,” Rubrong said. “It’s different from Thailand. The weather is very cold. Thailand is humid and hot.
“But it feels great” to make it to the final. “I just want to try my best.”
CGA Match Play
Final Rounds at Columbine CC in Columbine Valley
TJ Shehee, Boulder CC, def. Gavin Hagstrom, Northern Colorado e-Club, 3 and 1
Parker Edens, Northern Colorado e-Club, def. Spencer Painton, Metro Denver e-Club, 1 up
Colin Prater, Cherokee Ridge GC, def. Tyler Bishop, Saddleback GC, 5 and 3
Nick Nosewicz, Valley CC, def. Chris Thayer, Metro Denver e-Club, 20 holes
TJ Shehee, Boulder CC, def. Parker Edens, Northern Colorado e-Club, 2 up
Nick Nosewicz, Valley CC, def. Colin Prater, Cherokee Ridge GC, 2 up
36-HOLE FINAL FRIDAY
TJ Shehee, Boulder CC, vs. Nick Nosewicz, Valley CC, 7 a.m.
CGA Women’s Match Play
Final Rounds at Columbine CC in Columbine Valley
Tarapath Panya, Thailand, def. Jessica Osden, CommonGround GC, 4 and 3
Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, def. Kylee Hughes, Eagle Ranch GC, 7 and 6
Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, def. Marilyn Hardy, Dos Rios GC, 2 and 1
Sloane Bayer, Paradise Valley, Ariz., def. Kaitlin Zingler, CGA Junior, 5 and 4
Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, def. Tarapath Panya, Thailand, 2 and 1
Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, def. Sloane Bayer, Paradise Valley, Ariz., 5 and 4
36-HOLE FINAL FRIDAY
Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, vs. Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, 7:10 a.m.
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