Tourney tests golfers

Irwin manages tough course to take Mid-Amateur title

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The Colorado Golf Association's Mid-Amateur Championships featured three different leaders during the three days event was held in Steamboat Springs.

But Steven Irwin, who led Sunday's final round, was the one who took it all.

Irwin, the 2004 CGA player of the year, shot rounds of 72-70-20 to finish two strokes under par en route to earning this year's title.

Steamboat's Butch Boucher overcame a slow start Friday to finish 19th overall 18 strokes over par at 234.

"I was shooting for a top-10, but it just didn't happen on Friday," Boucher said. "It might have been my nerves. I just wasn't feeling as confident as I needed to commit to my shots."

But the Steamboat golfer wasn't the only one to struggle on the well-rolled greens and fairways of the Haymaker Golf Course.

Crews worked all week to make sure Haymaker offered a championship-level test for the 84 players from across the state who competed.

The scores from the field reflected hard, fast greens and difficult pin placements.

"The greens were so fast, and that, combined with the wind, made for some very difficult holes, Boucher said. "This was a much more demanding golf course."

But Boucher wasn't complaining.

He said the entire field had to deal with the same conditions and, although it may have been difficult, the course was a fair test of a golfer's skill.

'The course challenged everybody who was out there," Boucher said. "It was just a question of how they managed it."

The best course manager had to be Irwin, who turned in the three most solid and consistent rounds of the week.

Irwin opened with a 72 on Friday. He followed his opening round with a round of 70 on Saturday and another round of 70 on Sunday. He was the only golfer in the field to finish under par for the tournament. The average stroke average was 80.81 and was over 81 for the first two days.

Michael Harrington shot a 71 on the first day and a 70 on the second day to take the overall lead headed down the stretch.

But a double bogey on 12 and three other bogeys in the final round dropped him off the pace set by Irwin.

Rick DeWitt, who won the tournament the last time it was held in Steamboat in 2000, had the best opening round at 70.

But an 81 on Saturday pushed the seven-time CGA Mid-Amateur out of the running. DeWitt regrouped with a 72 on Sunday to finish in a tie for third at 223. Robert Polk also finished at 223.

Boucher's 19th place finish means that he is prequalified to play in the CGA event next season. He had played in the tournament 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Steamboat's Steve Dodson also played and finished in a tie for 26. Dodson finished with rounds of 79, 82 and 28 for a total of 239.

Boucher said that although he was disappointed that he couldn't finish higher on his home course, he was happy with his effort and the tournament in general.

He said the Mid-Amateur allows older golfers (older than 25) to compete in a fun and challenging atmosphere

"This is a great event for the working-class guy," Boucher said. "It allows the guys who have to go to work on Monday a place to see how they measure up to their peers."

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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