In a recent early morning round at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City, Vancouver’s Spencer Tibbits approached the 18th green with a chance at 59.
His 25-foot birdie putt skidded by the hole an inch low and Tibbits settled for a career-best 60, a bitter end considering the stakes when he walked up to the gettable par 5.
That type of round, though, is something Tibbits will need a lot more of in the coming months. Earlier this summer, Tibbits — a Fort Vancouver and Oregon State alumnus — turned professional. He will compete in the prestigious Colorado Open this week for a chance at a $100,000 prize.
“I thought it was time to move forward,” Tibbits said of his professional ambitions. “I wanted to move on quite a bit earlier, but with COVID, it made the decision clear to stay at Oregon State one more year.”
Tibbits, in his senior year as a Beaver, led Oregon State to its fourth national championship appearance since 1967. But now his time as part of a team is done. On the professional circuit, he has only himself to play for, something Tibbits quite enjoys.
“I think it makes me sharper,” Tibbits said of playing for himself. “Throughout my career, I played my best and enjoyed it the most when I was competing for myself.”
Tibbits is confident he can make something happen as a professional. He hopes to play in some developmental tour events similar to the Colorado Open before attempting to get through the Korn Ferry Tour Q-School in October.
However, it’s natural for any golfer who sees the numbers put up at some of the smaller professional events to question their own game a little bit.
It’s not uncommon to see multiple 61s or 62s on an afternoon scoreboard.
But Tibbits was assured by his college coach and PGA Tour member Joel Dahmen that the courses in these events are much easier to attack than at any NCAA or PGA event.
“For me, I’ve always played best when par was meaningful, tournaments like the US Open,” said Tibbits, who missed the cut by one stroke at the 2019 U.S. Open. “Playing tournaments knowing you’re going to have to make birdies will be different.”
That’s why shooting a 60 with a group of friends after a 5:45 a.m. tee time is so important for Tibbits. It gives him all the confidence he needs going into a very important stretch for his career.
“When I shot the course record (of 62) at Royal Oaks, that was shortly before the US Open stuff and led to me playing some of the best golf of my career,” Tibbits said. “I’m hoping for something similar with this spark.”
The Colorado Open runs Thursday to Sunday at Green Valley Ranch in Denver. Tibbits, one of 156 in the field, tees off at 7:50 a.m. Thursday. You can follow the live leaderboard at https://cogf.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/cogf21/event/cogf2111/contest/9/leaderboard.htm.
Tibbits has a purposefully light summer schedule leading up to Korn Ferry Q-School. There, he will need to make the final of three stages to get at least partial membership on the KFT.
If he fails to get through the first two stages, Tibbits said he will try his luck in Europe on the Challenge Tour.
“I feel like I can really make something happen as a pro,” Tibbits said. “The first couple events could be interesting for me because it’s different and will take a little getting used to. Over time, I’ll get a better grasp of how everything feels.”