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Woody Paige: Could be a dream Colorado foursome at U.S. Senior Open if John Elway qualifies

May 26, 2018 Updated: May 27, 2018 at 11:15 am
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Fore for Four!

Visualize a Colorado Connection foursome in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor.

Tom Watson.

Hale Irwin.

John Daly.

John Elway.

That dream quartet has won 171 golf tournaments, including 13 majors, and three Super Bowls. Two graduated from Stanford; one played on the football team, and the other on the golf and table tennis teams. One played football and golf at the University of Colorado, and the other was on the golf team at Arkansas.

Watson and Irwin have finished first in a combined five U.S. and British Senior Opens.

Three are in Halls of Fame. The other is one of the most provocative golfers in history.

Elway 50 Golf
Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway hits his drive off of the sixth hole in the first round of the HealthOne Colorado Senior Open in Denver, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. Elway turned 50 on June 28 and now qualifies to play in senior events. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) 

The Duke of Denver, a player and an executive with the Broncos for 23 seasons, has lived in Colorado since 1983. Irwin was all-state in football and golf at Boulder High School, then all-Big Eight in football at CU and the NCAA individual golf champion. When Watson, who is from Kansas City, joined the PGA, he represented the new golf course in Steamboat Springs. After the unknown Daly shockingly won the 1991 PGA Championship, he moved to Castle Pines the next year. At a Christmas party at his home, Daly was arrested after a physical assault on his wife and for "destroying the house.'' He soon left Colorado.

It's possible that the eclectic grouping could happen on June 28, which will be Elway's 58 birthday.

First, though, Ol' No. 7 must try to qualify for the Senior Open on Memorial Day at the Grand Ol' Resort's East Course. His tee time is at 10:10 a.m., and Elway, a member of five country clubs who carries a 1.8 golf handicap, must wind up in the top two of the 18-hole round. (Tickets are free with sign-up/printout.)

If he succeeds, Elway's bucket wish list will be closer to completion.

On the day before John turned 50, he told me, in a long conversation at a Cherry Creek restaurant that bears his name, he had more goals: Return to the Broncos as an executive and win another Super Bowl; see his four children graduate from college; play a villain in a cowboy movie; and compete on the PGA Champions Tour.

FILE - In this April 19, 2018, file photo, John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, talks with reporters during a news conference about the team's priorities in the NFL Draft, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. Elway and his lieutenants spent countless hours studying the "Big Four" passers _ Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen _ over the past several months, sending contingents to pro days, coaching Allen and Mayfield at the Senior Bowl, bringing them in for two-day visits and interviewing them at the combine. Maybe that was all a smoke screen, maybe not. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) 

Perhaps one day there will be a remake of "Shane,'' and Elway can be the Jack Palance character.

But, for now, he has to confront one of the most difficult challenges of his sports career - the 7,533-yard wondrous landscape, where Elway has struggled before in casual rounds.

Elway will need "The Drive'' on the 601-yard third hole. And he'll have to "pull the trigger,'' as he once said of Tim Tebow, and birdie the 18th, fronted by a pond and backed by the clubhouse with the rich and the famous shaking their jewelry and Scotches.

Elway has a better chance of coaxing another playoff spot out of the Broncos this year.

Can Watson, Irwin or Daly, who have Open exemptions, win a major again? Their chances aren't realistic, either.

Watson isn't officially entered yet, but told friends recently he will play in Colorado. Irwin definitely will participate. Who knows about Daly, a "WD'' candidate? He withdrew from the Senior Open last year and the PGA Senior Championship the past week because of a knee issue.

Irwin, who is No. 1 all-time with 45 senior tournament victories, will be 73 on June 3. Watson, who has won eight majors (including the British Open five times) is 68. He did win the Par 3 tournament at Augusta National in April.

Of the more than 100 majors and other tournaments I've covered over five decades, several, including a duel with Irwin, centered on Watson. In 1982 at Pebble Beach, Watson nudged Jack Nicklaus with an improbable chip-in 17. Years earlier he defeated Jack at The Masters. At Royal Birkdale in England in '83, Watson prevailed for his final major title after Irwin whiffed on a one-inch putt and would lose by one.

How about a Watson-Irwin going-out-in-glory rematch at the 2018 U.S. Senior Open?

The Broadmoor has hosted seven previous major golf events. The eighth will have the most star-spangled field, featuring at least 17 players with 25 major championships and 11 former U.S. Senior Open titlists.

And, possibly this year's honorary chairman.

John Elway.

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