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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 29 2010

Podolak misses cut in Colorado

In the end, Thursday’s first round was too much to overcome for Oxbow’s Mike Podolak. But at least he left the Senior PGA Championship at the Colorado Golf Club in Denver on a decent note Friday.

Podolak carded a 5-over 77 and missed the cut for the final two days today and Sunday. His opening-round 80, dented with poor putting, left him at 13 over for the two days.

“I’m glad I played, it was a big-time challenge,” Podolak said. “And it is a big-time, long, difficult golf course with extreme greens. Tough winds. It’s good to see these kinds of conditions. They set it up hard for the best senior players in the world.”

Podolak qualified by virtue of meeting a company exemption to play in one tournament in February. He made enough money, $1,955, to qualify him on the money list for the Senior PGA.

“It was kind of a roller coaster emotionally,” he said. “Coming down here, I hoped to put some swings together and play the golf course. I heard it was difficult before I came here and it turned out to be a great week. Anytime you can play in a senior major, I’m so glad I made the decision to come.

“I didn’t think I would be ready, but I said I had to go. I’m a little disappointed in my score, but I hit the ball really nice from tee to green. I just couldn’t get the job done around the green.”

There were some haunting similarities to Thursday’s first round. Podolak bogeyed his first two holes both days, in Friday’s case starting on the back nine. He bogeyed the par 5 16th hole both days, and carding a 6 in a major championship makes it tough to make a cut.

All four par 5s at the Colorado Golf Club are long, with No. 1 playing at 653 yards, No. 15 at 592 and No. 7 at 580.

Yet, two birdies on his first nine holes got Podolak to 1-over 37 at the turn Friday. At that point, the projected cut on the PGA website was 6-over and still within reach for Podolak – provided he got hot on his last nine holes. And things were going OK until another bogey on a par 5 and a double bogey on the par 4 16th.

The cut ended up being at 8 over, meaning Podolak would have had to shot a 1-under 71 to make it.

“I finished poorly and putted poorly again,” he said. “But I had a better round today.”

Still, several players had just as tough a go of it if not tougher. Another area golfer – Bill Israelson of Staples, Minn., – also finished at 13 over. And 24 players were behind them.

Tom Lehman, from Alexandria, Minn., meanwhile, is in the hunt, carding a 1-under 71 and is at 5-under for the tourney and sitting in fourth place.

“Wind is such a big factor on every shot,” Podolak said. “Whether it’s down wind, cross or into the wind ... it’s kind of hard to describe. You can’t let up on any shot or any putt. That’s why the scores are so high.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546