Professional golf returns to Colorado at Berthoud’s Heron Lakes

Photo from TPCColorado Facebook

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

For the first time in five years, Colorado will be home to a professional golf tournament, and Berthoud will be front and center.

This week 156 players will descend upon TPC Colorado for the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. On June 19, Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, took over naming rights for the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit, which was formerly called the Tour.

The field includes some big names, including former World No. 1 and 2001 Open Championship winner, David Duval, who accepted one of four sponsor exemptions to participate in the event. Also competing will be Colorado Native Mark Hubbard, currently ranked No. 7 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular-season points list.

“We are thrilled to have David Duval join what’s shaping up to be an incredible field for the first TPC Colorado Open Championship at Heron Lakes. To have David, who originally started his storied career on this tour, join this event, truly shows how much he loves not only golf, but Colorado and his community,” said tournament director, Drew Blass.

Additionally, the field is scheduled to include 19 of the top-25 players on the tour’s points list, including current No. 1-ranked Xinjun Zhang as well as No. 5-ranked Ryan Brehm, who won the tour’s most recent event, the LEECOM Health Challenge at the Peek’n Peak Resort Upper Course in Findley Lake, N.Y., on July 7. At season’s end, the top-25 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s points list receive their card to play with the world’s best on the PGA Tour.

Duval, who only plays a handful of times a year, while also spending time working as an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel, elected to play in the TPC Colorado Championship despite the fact he will be traveling to Northern Ireland next week to participate in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. At a media event held at the course in May, Duval explained he elected to play locally rather than travel across the Atlantic to practice for one of the world’s most prominent events.

“I’m not out week in, week out, doing it so I kind of weighed the pros and cons of being there earlier to get in an extra practice round or actually competing in a competitive environment,” Duval said. “The ability to compete at home before I compete over there was more important than an extra practice round at Portrush.”

The tournament will be of the traditional four-day (Thursday-Sunday), 72-hole format that will include 156 players competing for a $600,000 purse, $108,000 of which will go to the event’s champion. After the opening 36 holes on Thursday and Friday, the field will be cut down to the low 65 players, ties included, for the final two rounds over the weekend. In the first two rounds, players will tee off simultaneously at No. 1 and No. 10 holes beginning at 7 a.m. and, after the field is cut to the low 65 and ties, tee times for the weekend rounds will stretch from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A trophy presentation to the champion will occur early Sunday evening after all the players have completed their rounds.

The Korn Ferry Tour serves as the primary avenue of qualification for the PGA Tour, and currently three of out of every four PGA Tour members are Tour alumni. The Tour boasts 23 major champions and eight PLAYERS champions and includes current PGA stars such as Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Tony Finau and Jason Dufner. Hubbard said the tour is “as competitive as it gets,” and outlined how, as opposed to the shorter Q-school route to the PGA Tour, it better prepares players for the lifestyle of being a professional golfer.

”The players truly are world-class players,” Duval said of the Korn Ferry Tour. “These are the players that five years from now, 10 years from now, you’re going to be looking at; they’re the Brooks Koepkas of the world, the Jordan Spieths, the next great players are in these events.”

Officials are expecting large crowds of spectators to fill the viewing areas around the course. Primarily, spectators can watch five holes at one time – including TPC Colorado’s signature par-three 16th hole –from the area just behind (west) of the club house area. There will be cooling stations, hospitality areas, and other viewing points peppered throughout the course property. Free transportation via the Brewhop Trolley is available at every hour and half hour on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 7p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. with pickups at the corner of Third and Mountain.

Said Duval, “The support that these events (in Colorado) have had in the past are second to none.”

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