(Englewood, CO) – Mike Northern started the year on the bench dealing with a bulky back. The PGA Life Member from Colorado Springs, Colo. could barely finish an eighteen-hole round. As the season went on, Northern battled back to get on the course and on Tuesday, battled back against the field to claim the 2019 Colorado Senior PGA Professional Championship.
“I had a muscle back there that would spasm during my golf swing,” noted Northern. “The more I played, the longer into the round I got, the more it would spasm. My chiropractor and my massage therapist talked and worked together a bit and they were able to get it to release.”
Northern started the second round tied for second after posting a one-under-par 69 during the first round. “I hit it really (well) in the first round but struggled with the putter. I spent some time on the putting green last night trying to figure things outs,” noted Northern, who routinely stays in his RV at the host facility between rounds. “I really just needed to get out of my own way.”
Northern played his opening nine in three-under-par 32 pulling into the lead and gaining momentum on the field. That strong start came to a screeching halt though when Northern made back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th holes. He didn’t worry though as he kept looking forward.
“I didn’t look at the leaderboard,” Northern noted. “I thought about it on 16 because I bogeyed 14 and 15 but I didn’t. I just tried to make a couple birdies coming in to make up for those two bogeys.”
Northern ran into tree trouble at the par-5 16th and was lucky to find his second shot after the ball careened across the fairway, nearly out of sight. He played a long third shot towards the green and after an uphill chip, rolled in a six-foot par putt.
Northern had to survive a late charge by Chris Johnson, PGA, General Manager at the Country Club at Woodmoor, who was playing two groups in front of Northern. Johnson, the 2010 Colorado PGA Professional Champion, made five birdies during his round, including birdies at two of his last three holes, to post a two-under-par 138.
Not knowing what Johnson was doing in front of him, Northern hit his second shot into the par-4 17th to 6 feet but was faced with a downhill putt. He watched as the ball trickled towards the hole and finally fell in, giving him a one-shot lead.
On his final hole, Northern played a similar approach shot and was left with another downhill putt for birdie. The putt wasn’t to be but Northern tapped in for par and a one-shot victory.
While the time off was frustrating for Northern, it helped reinvigorate him when he was healthy enough to return. “Ultimately, I think the time off was pretty good for me,” he said following the awards ceremony. “I had a different perspective when I came back (from the injury) and was really ready to compete again.”
57 players registered for the event. They were competing for seven spots in the 2019 Senior PGA Professional Championship to be played October 3 – 6, 2019, at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. Bill Loeffler, the 2007 Senior PGA Professional Champion, was already exempt into the championship.
Joining Northern and Johnson in qualifying were Don Hurter, PGA Director of Instruction at Castle Pines Golf Club; Doug Rohrbaugh, PGA Sales Rep with Anderson Ord; Doug Wherry, Director of Instruction at Jake’s Academy; Ron Vlosich, PGA Life Member; and Patrick Reidy, PGA Instructor at The Club at Inverness.