From left, Richard Padon, Nick Bomba, Brett Etzler and Justin Gallegos recently won the McGladrey qualifying round at Riverdale Dunes in Brighton. In October, the four will travel to Pinehurst, N.C., to compete in the championships.

Photo by Ben Bulkeley

From left, Richard Padon, Nick Bomba, Brett Etzler and Justin Gallegos recently won the McGladrey qualifying round at Riverdale Dunes in Brighton. In October, the four will travel to Pinehurst, N.C., to compete in the championships.

Craig team advances to McGladrey golf championship

When Brett Etzler and Richard Padon played at Riverdale Dunes last year, one shot separated their team from the top team.

This year, the result was the same, only reversed.

On Sunday, Padon, Etzler, Nick Bomba and Justin Gallegos took first place by shooting 128 to claim the top spot at the McGladrey qualifying event in Brighton.

From Oct. 26 to 28, the team will travel to Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C., for the championships.

The team did not know how they had fared until the last score was printed on the leader board, Padon said.

"At the end, you walk in and you're nervous," he said. "Last year, I thought we played better, but when the scores came in, we were beat by one shot."

It was Padon's fifth year going to the team championship, which is a best-ball amateur championship sponsored by the Professional Golfers Association of America.

The two best golfers from each hole were counted toward the final score.

Luckily for Etzler, Padon, Bomba and Gallegos, the shots were dropping.

"We all shot really well," Etzler said. "It seemed like each hole, someone else would pick us up. We shot a total of eight birdies."

Padon said he thought the team played better last year, when it finished second.

"We played good, I don't know if we played better than last year," Padon said. "The course was also set up differently - it was tougher."

Even with the solid performances all around, the team had to hold its breath until all scores had been counted.

"We never knew, we just had to sit and wait," Etzler said. "We all played pretty good, so we were kind of anxious to see how we had done."

When the waiting was over, the team from Craig saw the final results.

The score was 128 to 129.

"Last year, we lost by one shot to the same team," Etzler said. "So, it's kind of bittersweet."

Now, the team won't just be representing Yampa Valley Golf Course, where Etzler is the golf pro, and Padon, Bomba and Gallegos' home course.

"We'll be representing Colorado," Etzler said. "We're the only team from Colorado, out of 40."

The team will continue to practice as the date draws near.

Padon will employ a new strategy as he prepares to golf in Pinehurst.

"I need to become the biggest sandbagger in the country," he said.

The feeling of winning hasn't faded for Padon - he has yet to even feel it.

"It was pretty sweet. It hasn't even set in yet," he said. "It probably won't set in until we are on the plane."

The top prize for winning the McGladrey Championship is $15,000 for each member of the team.

Padon already knew what he would purchase should his team golf the way they did Sunday.

"All new clubs," he said, "for the rest of my life."

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or bbulkeley@craigdailypress.com.

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