Former UCCS golfer earns first pro victory

By Rick Brown published August 14, 2006

This article has been reprinted with the permission of the Des Moines Register. Jon Olson played for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs from 2000-03.

Jon Olson was minutes away from his first victory as a professional golfer when stormy weather called time out.

A flash of lightning forced a 20-minute suspension of play Sunday during the final round of the Herman Sani Invitational at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston.

The final threesome of Olson, Cory Braunschweig and Sean McCarty were the only ones left on the course. Braunschweig had already hit his approach to the 18th green when play was stopped.

It turned out to be a good news break for Olson. He thought his birdie on the 17th hole had given him a one-shot lead over fellow Ames pro Jay Horton, the golf coach at Iowa State.

During the delay, Olson found out his lead was actually two shots.

"That made things a little easier,'' Olson said.

When play resumed, Olson made a conservative bogey to close out a final-round 1-under-par 71. Olson's 54-hole total of 206, 10 under par, was one shot better than Horton.

Horton made it interesting by shooting a final-round 66, including a back-nine 31. But he still finished second for a sixth time in the Sani. He was also a runner-up in 2004, 2002, 1999, 1996 and 1992.

Horton's second-round 76 was too much to overcome. He shot 65 in the first round.

"I just needed to get rid of that middle round,'' Horton said.

Jon Brown also closed with a 66 to finish as the low amateur and third overall. Brown has a commanding lead in the Iowa Golf Association's 2006 amateur of the year point race.

Olson, 26, who graduated from Ames High School in 1998 and played at NCAA Division II University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, collected a first-place check for $1,200. Horton won $900.

"They always ask what comes first, winning or confidence,'' Olson said. "That's a good question. I'm always confident out here. It's fun to be able to play golf. I feel fortunate.''

Olson's name will be added to the Bert McGrane Trophy, which displays every Sani winner since the tournament started in 1950.

That trophy tells an encouraging story for anyone trying to make a living in professional golf.

Since 1979, six Sani winners have made it to the PGA Tour for at least a year - Mike Bender, Lon Nielsen, Dave Rummells, Ken Schall, Jerry Smith and Zach Johnson.

Olson will try to qualify for the PGA Tour for the first time this fall.

"I've made a lot of good improvements in my game the last year and a half,'' Olson said.

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