While former Peak to Peak and current CU junior Behrod Keshtavar has tried his hand at the U.S. Open local qualifying tournaments for the past several years, the 2016 event at Collindale in Fort Collins happened to be the first for Boulder sophomore Freddie Gluck.
The mid-May tournament turned out better than perhaps both could have asked for and essentially has parlayed into a great start to the summer season.
Keshtavar, 20, was the co-medalist of the single-round tournament after firing a 2-under par 69 — giving him a chance to move on to the sectional qualifying for the first time ever.
A former 3A state runner-up as a senior with the Pumas, Keshtavar played two rounds at two different courses in Daly City, Calif., with a chance to move on to this week's Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. One of 42 amateur players in the 100-man field at Lake Merced, Keshtavar finished near the middle of the pack with a two-round total of 147 (76-71).
"To be honest I thought I played terribly (at sectionals) but I think I'll draw a lot of good things from the experience," Keshtavar said recently. "The second day, my ball striking was similar to the first round but my putting was so much better.
"I felt ready and was excited to be a part of it, and really I was going to accept the outcome no matter what. The biggest thing for me, I think, was the altitude change because I lost probably 10 percent of my distance. It took awhile to get adjusted to."
Keshtavar was close to qualifying for sectionals back in 2014 (also held at Collindale), just missing out by a single stroke. It is one of the courses that he has found much success since, and that confidence helped him tie Matthew Liringis (Chandler, Ariz.) for the low round.
"I had made a 15-foot putt on the last hole to get that 69, and I thought ... that was just going to get me out of a playoff," Keshtavar said. "I had no idea that was going to be the winning score to co-medal. I was pretty stoked about that."
Gluck, 16, was equally elated with his result. He carded a 1-over 72 — along with six other competitors — and was eliminated in the third playoff hole. He followed up with another playoff for the purposes of being named an alternate, and he defeated a 28-year-old professional, Jacob Lestishen of Lone Tree, on the second hole.
Since then, Gluck has played well. He qualified for the American Junior Golf Association's Hale Irwin Colorado Junior after finishing seventh at the Highlands Ranch Golf Club, then went on to shoot a three-day total of 226 to finish 43rd. Wednesday, he was just finishing up the third round of the Colorado Junior Amateur where he was sitting 26th after two rounds at Eisenhower Golf Course.
"Overall, it really just brought me a lot of confidence toward any other tournament I play in because it was a just a large-scale event on a very hard course," Gluck said of the Open qualifier. "It made me think more about each golf shot and gave me the ability to know I could shoot better scores.
"It was my first playoff ever, so I really feel like I'll know how to handle the nerves the next time. There were like 40 people watching me, so it was a great stepping stone."