GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Michael Smith of Rifle had never won the Glenwood Open in the 10-plus years he’s been playing in the tournament. Never until Sunday, that is.
And needless to say, he couldn’t have asked for a better way to win it.
Smith rallied from a four-shot deficit in Saturday’s first round to go into a playoff with first-round leader Lamar Carlile of Denver, and his six-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole earned him the victory in the tournament’s championship flight at the nine-hole Glenwood Springs Golf Course.
“It’s awesome, and this feels wonderful,” said Smith, who shares the course-record round of 61 with four people. “The company along the way was great, and it’s just a great golf course all around.”
Smith and Carlile finished the second round at 1-under 139 on the course that plays at par-70 for 18 holes. Smith caught Carlile on the back nine when he birdied the par-5 15th after Carlile had to get out of some potentially massive trouble to simply bogey the hole. The pair played even for the final three holes, though Carlile twice had to chip our of the rough to make par and keep pace.
Carlile was in good spirits despite the loss. He’s played in the tournament for 10 years and has managed Top 5 finishes in five of the past seven tournaments, including a third-place finish in 2013. He had put himself in a good spot headed into Sunday’s final round thanks to his lifetime-best score of 5-under 65 on Saturday, which had given him a two-shot edge over defending champion Keith Humerickhouse.
“Losing is tough no matter what, but I’m really happy with the way that I played,” Carlile said. “Really, [Saturday was] the first under-par round that I’ve had all season.
“When you’re playing with the local guys, you’ve got to expect them to bring a little something extra,” Carlile continued. “But I’ve got to be happy with the way I as able to play on two of the last three holes, especially chipping out of trees and still saving par. It really could have been a lot worse.”
Smith’s victory snapped a run of tournament titles by Humerickhouse, who had won three consecutive Glenwood Open championships prior to the tournament this past weekend. His first-round score of 3-under 67 placed him two shots behind Carlile headed into the final round, but he was reeling after shooting a 5-over 40 on the front nine Sunday.
He made a heck of a push at the end, though, and his rally on the back nine put him right in the thick of things headed into the final hole. But on the 18th, his 25-foot birdie putt just slipped by the hole before he closed it out with two more strokes.
Humerickhouse finished two shots behind Smith and Carlile at 1-over 141, putting him in a third-place tie with Tristin Rohrbaugh and Jared Bickling. Both Rohrbaugh and Bickling shot under par on Sunday after shooting 3-over and 2-over, respectively, on Saturday.
“Keith is a good buddy and I’ll always wish him all the best,” Smith said. “I have to admit it’s nice to get a little bump in front of him.”
Glenwood Springs Golf Course head professional Greg Gortsema said it’s the longest playoff the tournament has had since he came to the course 25 years ago.
Danny Schard took first place in the tournament’s first flight with a two-day score of 151, and Jeff Otto’s score of 157 earned him a six-shot win over John McFarland and Mark Becker in the second flight. Bill Silverman won the third flight title, and Mike Pearson took first in the fourth flight.