(Westminster, CO) – Wikipedia defines resiliency as the ability to not just bounce back but bounce forward. Ben Lanting, PGA, Associate from Bear Creek Golf Club, embodied resiliency on Tuesday to claim his second straight title at the National Car Rental Colorado Assistant Professional Championship.
Lanting opened with a one-under-par 71, leaving him tied for fifth place after the first round. Like last year, he would have to battle through two previous champions in Caine Fitzgerald and Geoff Keffer if he was going to claim a second title. Things started off on the wrong foot this year though as Lanting doubled the first hole during the final round.
“I hit my approach in with a little adrenaline,” Lanting noted about his first hole. “I had a downhill chip shot and ran it twenty feet past and then got pretty aggressive with my par putt and missed a five-foot wiggler. The good thing about it was that if you are going to double bogey a hole, it might as well be the first hole because you have so much time to bounce back.”
Lanting took advantage of that time and posted eight birdies the rest of the way to close with a six-under-par 66 to finish with a two-day total of 137.
“I play my best golf when I’m not focused on golf, when I’m focused on my faith and that’s where I went after that double,” Lanting noted. “It really just turned into having a lot of fun.”
Lanting doesn’t take winning for a second year in-a-row for granted. “It’s an honor to win again. It was a little different than last year in the way it started but again, I’m so honored to have won it two years in a row,” Lanting noted after the round. “There are so many good players in this event and so many that had a good round today.”
This wasn’t the first time Lanting dealt with having to bounce back this year. He was one of just a few Colorado PGA Members or Associates to try to qualify for the inaugural TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. Competing at Highland Meadows in one of two Monday qualifiers, Lanting was in the first group of the day and posted an impressive 8-under-par 64. After waiting all day for the rest of the 110 players to finish their rounds, Lanting found himself in a three-for-two playoff. After playing his approach shot to twenty feet, Lanting watched as his competitors both made birdie to qualify, one from close range, another from 35 feet. Needless to say, what could have been a highlight of his career was a demoralizing defeat.
“That was a big disappointment for a while,” Lanting noted. “(Moving forward) was about reframing what happened for me. I always think golf is a lot like life, it’s not about if but when you are going to have big numbers or disappointment. After that, it’s about how you handle the situation. You can’t go back and change anything so it’s about learning and moving forward.”
Even after making eight birdies, Lanting was challenged throughout the day. Fitzgerald, a three-time champion of the event, mounted a strong charge. He made the turn at three-under-par, one stroke behind Lanting. He picked up significant momentum by holing a sand wedge at the par-4 11th hole for an eagle to pull into a tie for first. That momentum carried over to the par-3 17th where he made another birdie to again pull even but Lanting was able to slam the door closed with a closing birdie at the par-5 18th.
Finishing in third place was Pat Grady, PGA Associate who is the Assistant Coach of the Men’s Golf Team at the University of Colorado. In fourth place and earning the last qualifying spot was Nate LeBlanc, PGA, Assistant Professional from Telluride Ski and Golf Club.